“Wildcat Currencies: America’s Alternative Economies” (CAAS/ASA; deadline 26 January 2015)

Organizer: Ross Bullen (OCAD University, Toronto, ON, Canada)


This is one of four panels that the ASA has invited the Canadian Association for American Studies to coordinate.

In his 2014 book Wildcat Currency: How the Virtual Money Revolution is Transforming the Economy, Edward Castronova argues that decentralized digital currencies like BitCoin represent less a break from a conventional understanding of what money is, than a continuation of a long tradition of “wildcat currencies” that circulate outside, or alongside, the mainstream American economy. Such currencies complicate the distinction between “real” and “imaginary” (or “virtual”) money, and indeed cause us to ask whether such distinctions are, or ever have been, possible. Moreover, wildcat currencies have offered an important alternative for those who – for whatever reason – do not benefit from, of have access to, centralized banking systems. This panel seeks papers that consider the U.S. economy as a site that produces and reproduces structural inequalities and miseries, and explore how various groups of people in the U.S. have resisted an economy that does not benefit them by creating their own currencies, banks, systems of exchange, and transfers of value. Papers from all fields (including, of course, fictional representations of wildcat currencies) and historical periods are welcome. Possible topics could include “general” and “restricted” economies; African American banking; “money clubs” (like ggeh); IVTS (informal value transfer systems) like hawala; Confederate money; antebellum wildcat banking; digital currencies (like BitCoin); money in video games and other virtual environments; U.S. gift economies. This panel is sponsored by the Canadian Association for American Studies. Up to 250 words (1 page) proposals with short CVs by January 26 to Ross Bullen, by January 26, 2015.

Categories: Non ACCUTE CFPs

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