Loading

A Cultural History of Money

6 Volumes

      The origins of the modern, Western concept of money can be traced back to the earliest electrum coins that were produced in Asia Minor in the seventh century BCE. While other forms of currency (shells, jewelry, silver ingots) were in widespread use long before this, the introduction of coinage aided and accelerated momentous economic, political, and social developments such as long-distance trade, wealth creation (and the social differentiation that followed from that), and the financing of military and political power. Coinage, though adopted inconsistently across different ancient societies, became a significant marker of identity and became embedded in practices of religion and superstition. And this period also witnessed the emergence of the problems of money - inflation, monetary instability, and the breakup of monetary unions - which have surfaced repeatedly in succeeding centuries.

      Drawing upon a wealth of visual and textual sources, A Cultural History of Money in Antiquity presents essays that examine key cultural case studies of the period on the themes of technologies, ideas, ritual and religion, the everyday, art and representation, interpretation, and the issues of the age.

      Money provides a unique and illuminating perspective on the Middle Ages. In much of medieval Europe, the central meaning of money was a prescribed unit of precious metal but in practice precious metal did not necessarily change hands and indeed coinage was very often in short supply. Money had economic, institutional, social, and cultural dimensions which developed the legacy of antiquity and set the scene for modern developments including the rise of capitalism and finance as well as a moralized discourse on the proper and improper uses of money. In its many forms – coin, metal, commodity, and concept – money played a central role in shaping the character of medieval society and, in turn, offers a vivid reflection of the distinctive features of medieval civilization.

      Drawing upon a wealth of visual and textual sources, A Cultural History of Money in the Medieval Age presents essays that examine key cultural case studies of the period on the themes of technologies, ideas, ritual and religion, the everyday, art and representation, interpretation, and the issues of the age.

      In a time before large banking systems, and with paper money just in its infancy, money during the Renaissance meant coinage (mainly gold and silver) and local credit systems. These monetary forms had a significant influence on the ways in which money was understood throughout the period, and shaped discussions on such topics as the meaning of monetary value, the economic, political, religious, and aesthetic uses of coinage, the moral implications of usury and credit systems, and the importance of reputation, both at the state and individual levels. Crucial to the transformation of ideas about money in the period was the growing awareness that the individuals, up to and including the monarch, were powerless to overcome the market forces that determined value and directed the movement of goods and money.

      Drawing upon a wealth of visual and textual sources, A Cultural History of Money in the Renaissance presents essays that examine key cultural case studies of the period on the themes of technologies, ideas, ritual and religion, the everyday, art and representation, interpretation, and the issues of the age.

      The Enlightenment was a time of monetary turmoil and transformation in Europe. Change began with a riot of experimentation, including novel ideas about human agency and capacity to promote economic progress, efforts to reframe divinity in terms (like the providential) compatible with market exchange, new instruments of credit, and innovative institutions such as national banks and capital markets. Europeans, including the settler societies in North America, improvised frantically: people faced the task of everyday exchange in changing media; governments took up the project of creating currencies that supported their political power; artists and writers raced to represent new forms of wealth and interpret the issues they raised; and intellectuals struggled to conceptualize, and tame, patterns of monetary transformation. The result was a rich debate, still unsettled, about the sources of value, the morality of the market, and the very nature of money.

      Drawing upon a wealth of visual and textual sources, A Cultural History of Money in the Age of Enlightenment presents essays that examine key cultural case studies of the period on the themes of technologies, ideas, ritual and religion, the everyday, art and representation, interpretation, and the issues of the age.

      A Cultural History of Money in the Age of Empire

      Volume 5

      Editor(s):

      Federico Neiburg, Nigel Dodd

      The nineteenth century was a time of intense monetization of social life: increasingly money became the only means of access to goods and services, especially in the new metropolises; new technologies and infrastructures emerged for saving and circulating money and for standardizing coinage; and paper currencies were printed, founded purely on trust without any intrinsic metallic value. But the monetary landscape was ambivalent so that the forces unifying monetary practice (imperial and national currencies, global monetary standards such as the gold standard) coexisted with the proliferation of local currencies. Money became a central issue in politics, the arts, and sciences – and the modern discipline of economics was born, with its claim to a monopoly on knowing and governing money.

      Drawing upon a wealth of visual and textual sources, A Cultural History of Money in the Age of Empire presents essays that examine key cultural case studies of the period on the themes of technologies, ideas, ritual and religion, the everyday, art and representation, interpretation, and the issues of the age.

      A Cultural History of Money in the Modern Age

      Volume 6

      Editor(s):

      Taylor C. Nelms, David Pedersen

      Bracketed by global financial crises and economic downturns, the modern age has been defined by debates about, and transformations of, money. The period witnessed the consolidation of national currencies and monetary policies as well as the diversification of payment technologies and the proliferation of financial instruments. Throughout, even as it appeared abstracted by finance and depoliticized by expert ideologies, money was revealed again and again to be a powerful medium of cultural imagination and practical inventiveness as well as the site of public and political struggles. Modern money - both as a form of liquidity and as a claim on wealth - remains deeply unsettled, caught between private and public interests and subject to epic struggles over the infrastructures of value creation and circulation and their distributional consequences.

      Drawing upon a wealth of visual and textual sources, A Cultural History of Money in the Modern Age presents essays that examine key cultural case studies of the period on the themes of technologies, ideas, ritual and religion, the everyday, art and representation, interpretation, and the issues of the age.