In Money Talk I, Is money language?, I explored how money and language are interconnected, and asked whether it is possible for money to exist without language. Here I cover the role that money talk plays in the financial system as a whole, and some recent work on the Utopian possibilities of money.
What do money and language have in common? If money is nothing more than “a promise to pay,” as David Graeber puts it, then is it really just a part of language, and not a separate thing? After all, like language, money is expressed in symbols, such as dollar signs and numbers. It can be sent digitally, just like any textual information.
Central banks, economic theory, and financial behavior are not topics that we normally associate with anthropology. Of course, many of you will have read best-sellers like David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Gillian Tett’s Fool’s Gold. But there are dozens, if not hundreds, more anthropologists putting a human face to current economic and financial issues.
Here are ten of the most innovative ones.
Popular culture tends to depict money as something that people are greedy for or afraid of. We are either trying to get more money to fuel our consumption habits, or we’re trying to avoid facing our financial realities. But in fact, people's relationship with money is largely social.
In a recent post on the EPIC blog, How to Talk about Money: Ethnographic Approaches to Financial Life, I discuss what people find interesting about money and explore ways we can research people's relationships with it and (through money) with each other.
You can read the full post here.