Course Description

Course Name

Anthropology of Money

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


An introduction to the anthropological understanding of money, drawing on contemporary case studies from Indigenous (often non-cash) societies, globalising industrial societies, and classical ethnographies of money.

This course aims to introduce students to an anthropological understanding of money, both in indigenous (often non-cash) societies and in the current epoch of globalisation. It illustrates that money is a profoundly cultural phenomenon, mediated by social, political and ideological forms that embody gendered practices of human agency and constraint, exchange, payment and consumption. As such the anthropology of money and its use says much about time, risk, faith, morality, trust and rationality. Exploring the cultural logics of money provides a critical perspective on the modern corporation, the power of numbers and their calculations and the cross-cultural interpretation of capital. This paper begins by exploring the relationship between money and culture. This is then complemented with classic ethnographic studies of money and its juxtaposition between 'tradition' and 'modernity' and the displacement of 'special purpose money' by the 'great transformation.' We then turn our attention to stock markets, trading and traders, time, risk and its calculability, finance and the state, and the relationship between money and crime and money and gender, class, and development.

Teaching Arrangements
13 lectures; 1 hour and 50 minutes each. Last lecture devoted to the final in-class test. 9 Tutorials. No tutorials in first and last week of class, and either side of the mid-semester week. Entirely internally assessed. No exam. Internal class test in last lecture.

Course Structure
Tutorial participation (10%)
Essay 1 (25%)
Essay 2 (25%)
In-class test (40%)

Learning Outcomes
1. Having an ability to use 'problem based learning' skills to critically assess data, evidence and argument
2. Deepening skills in critical reading and interpreting diverse information, data, arguments and media
3. Further improving writing skills that demonstrate an ability to make concise arguments and reinforce these with an appropriate selection of ethnographic and empirical evidence and a critical interpretation of that data

*Course content subject to change