Anthropology of Money

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Anthropology of Money

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    18 200-level ANTH points or 108 points

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    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 Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.