This paper must 1) examine and critique a definition of money found in an economics textbook, and 2) examine and critique one or two contemporary “discourses about money” in light of what we learned in class and your own research.
The point of the final paper is to research a topic of your own, like a time period and a place and what you can learn about money and what that tells you about the time, place, and if possible our time and place. It should be around ten pages or so.
Annotated bibliography is needed.
Short Description:This course examines monetary systems as material and politically contingent phenomena, from palace economies, cowrie shells, and metallic coinages to modern money and student debt.
Long Description:What is money? Orthodox theories, from Karl Marx to Econ 101, tend to see money as a veil over what is really going on, and the goal of the critique of money to look past or through money to the play of Value and Utility going on behind it. When this has been done, in Marxs words, the mystery of money will immediately disappear. In this course, we explore an alternative view according to which money can be better understood not by looking beyond it, but directly at it: what happens if we examine money as a material and politically contingent phenomenon in its own right, rather than merely as a metaphor or a sign of something besides itself? Rather than begin by assuming uncritically that the classic three functions of money (unit of account, means of exchange, and store of value) are naturally united in a single thing called money, we examine these functions separately with an eye to the tensions that arise between them, and trace a deep history of monetary systems as the outcome of a process of negotation and contestation. Topics considered include palace economies, cowrie shells, metallic coinages, the modern monetary revolution, and contemporary struggles over student debt.
Learning Outcomes:1. Compare and contrast different aspects of the monetary system.2. Analyze social and political struggles over monetary systems.3. Imagine possibilites for the future of monetary systems.
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