Keith Hart's Role

Keith Hart's role at the Pines Calyx Metadesign Workshop - 2008

SUGGESTED THEME: Money as a language of Exchange

  • What would we need to understand in order to (re)design, or metadesign more ecologically-attuned currency systems?
  • Money can be seen as a kind of language, yet it is also the result of a political and cultural design process.
  • The process of transaction is familiar to all of us. It is also fundamental to the way that ecosystems operate.
  • Why is it that money is central to human societies today, yet anthropologists tend not to like it? This is a long story.
  • If the human species is so transactional in its nature it will be important to know how to deal with this issue.
  • Metadesigners can learn to integrate the economic dimension within a complex, and complementary set of design agendas.

Some quotations

"Money in capitalist societies consequently stands for alienation, detachment, impersonal society, the outside; its origins lie beyond our control. Relations marked by the absence of money are the model of personal integration and free association, of what we take to be familiar, the inside. This institutional division asks too much of us. People want to make some meaningful connection between themselves as subjects and society as an object. It helps that money, as well as being a means of separating public and domestic life, was always the main bridge between them. Today it is the source of our vulnerability in society and the practical symbol allowing each of us to make an impersonal world meaningful. That is why money must be central to any attempt to humanize society." (Hart, K., Anthropology Today, Vol. 23 No 5, October 2007

"Of all the institutions we live by, the most pervasive is money (Hart 2001). Its power to affect our lives is often disturbing, yet most of us take its form for granted. Here I address what looks on the face of it like a minor subject, community currencies. This generic term covers many different ways that ordinary people can now issue money themselves. They do so in local or virtual associations formed as circuits of exchange, usually on a small scale. But these experiments with money contain the seeds of a profound social revolution. Now that world society is being formed as a single interactive network, we need to ask how it might be made more democratic, since democracy is universally acknowledged to be the only legitimate basis for our societies." (Hart, K., 'Common Wealth: Building Economic Democracy with Community Currencies', in Jérôme Blanc et al Exclusion et liens financiers – “Monnaies sociales”, Rapport du Centre Walras, Université Lumière-Lyon 2, 2005-6)

"The idea of people making their own money when liquidity fails is an old one. Historical antecedents for community currencies include instruments of credit in the pre-industrial states of the non-western world; utopian communities in the 19th century; the Social Credit movement in North America during the Great Depression; and European experiments in the same period, such as Gesell’s stamp scrip. How can today’s community currencies emulate the strengths and avoid the weaknesses of these precursors?" (Hart, K., Ecology & Farming Jun - Aug 2004)

Return to / go to Pines Calyx Experts