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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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Money in the Future of Africans

Money in the Future of Africans

(p.63) Five Money in the Future of Africans
African Futures

Jane I. Guyer

University of Chicago Press

The depiction of Africa’s economies as “in crisis” has lasted several decades. The etymology of “crisis” refers to a turning point: originally, in the course of a disease. In society and economy, which rarely “die”, a condition can install itself, and it appears to be this condition – alive but unwell and in danger of collapse – that has justified stretching the meaning of crisis beyond its "turning point" temporality. The term then demands empirical identification of critical features. Is “crisis” seen as continual, widespread proliferation of small moments when lives hover on the brink of new directions, or is it an interpretation of the systemic precariousness of structural conditions? This paper focuses on one condition taken as intrinsic to the African crisis at all levels, from structures to lives, namely the exchange value of national currencies since the abandonment of the Bretton Woods conventions. The theoretical selectivity of empirical focus has varied in its attentiveness to money, but, in general, currency devaluation and volatility have been quite widely neglected in the study of experiential crises, in part because, for many observers, devaluation and submission to market dynamics seemed to be necessary for the solution of the perceived crisis.

Keywords:   money, currency, devaluation, crisis, finance

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