When the state tries to edit the dictionary…and fails: the return of the Zimbabwean dollar

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Abstract

Exploring the return of state money to Zimbabwe in June 2019 after a ten-year absence, this essay critiques the lexicographical metaphors employed by Keynes and contemporary neo-chartalists as overly prescriptivist and inadequate to understanding debates over money’s proper form as terrains of struggle over the politics of social reproduction. For, rather than seamlessly reconfiguring the nation’s monetary lexicon in its reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar, the Zimbabwean state was at nearly every moment in the process chasing and attempting to co-opt everyday practices of the informal sector predicated on the non-fungibility of different kinds of dollars. The Zimbabwean case in turn prompts a reconceptualization of received understandings as money as the ‘creature of the state.’
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomy and Society
Early online date16 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • money
  • Zimbabwe
  • economic anthropology
  • chartalism
  • money as a creature of the state
  • Zimbabwean dollar

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