IAS Fellow's Public Lecture: Money Frontiers: the relative location of euros, Turkish lira and gold sovereigns in the Aegean
The current Eurozone crisis forms a backdrop for this lecture, which considers the historically changing relationship between borders and currencies from a social perspective. Based on ethnographic research in the Aegean region, it describes people's shifting understanding of the relative value of different types of currency: the euro, the Turkish Lira and gold sovereigns - which are still sometimes used for transactions on both the Greek and Turkish sides of the Aegean; more importantly, gold sovereigns continue to have high social significance in the region.
The lecture explores how people's understanding of the relative value of these currencies is connected with both historical and contemporary relations between places and peoples. It will argue that these three currencies represent different understandings of relations within, between and across frontiers: historically transnational (gold sovereigns); state-based (Turkish Lira); and the rather ambiguous and now ambivalent new form of cross-border relation implied by the euro. By comparing different social perspectives of the relation between location and these three forms of currency in the Aegean region, the lecture makes a contribution towards understanding how currencies both shape and are shaped by the border dynamics of any given region, both as material objects (cash) that people handle in their everyday lives; and as symbols and traces of the wider political, social and historical contexts in which people exist. The lecture provides a somewhat different vantage point from which to think about what is currently happening in the Eurozone; and it also explores the implications of the obvious point that the value of all currencies, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, are always at least partially dependent upon their cross-border value. In that sense, all currencies have relative locations.
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