‘Colonial currencies and money illusions’ by Prof. G. Balachandran

Prof. G. Balachandran from International History and Politics, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva presented his research entitled ‘Colonial currencies and money illusions’ at the Sociological Research Colloquium.

When: Friday, 10th February 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Seminar Room (First Floor), Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 


This paper attempts to situate dominant late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century sensibilities, claims, and practices about money in the political-economic contexts of colonialism and the worldwide expansion of accumulation. Drawing on an archive, and a rich scholarly tradition of studying money, including its histories, from the boundaries, my paper focuses on money as a political project engaging multiple actors, objectives, and motivations, traversing several possible paths and outcomes. Attending to the programmatic and pedagogical aspects of a universalizing money form and tracing its spread may contribute to a better understanding of money’s differential material effects. It may enable us to explore the broader political and social contexts for monetary ideas and theories, and their mutual interplays. Restoring money and ideas and theories about money to their respective time and place may help, furthermore, to thicken its (their) histories, and attempt stories about money that do not prefigure its unfolding.  

About the Speaker

G. Balachandran is Professor of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. His research engages South Asia and the Indian Ocean in a global frame and spans labour, capital, entrepreneurship and development. He is also interested in histories of colonialism and decolonisation, and their continuing significance for the present. Professor Balachandran’s current research focusses on cultures of commerce in the Indian Ocean and Atlantic worlds.

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