Alien Money: A Cultural Sociology Of The Ecuadorian Dollarization

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Carlo TOGNATO , Sociology & Center for Social Studies, National University of Colombia, Bogota, Colombia
Over the past two decades scholars have extensively addressed the influence of money on the formation and consolidation of national space. After the launch of the European Monetary Union (EMU), though, their interest has increasingly focused on the struggles over the definition of who should belong in a currency community and what cultural credentials countries should exhibit in order to gain their ticket in. What happens, though, when countries surrender their own currencies, severing the link between national identity and the currencies circulating in its jurisdiction? How do they manage to hold onto such alien currencies? The literature has not fully addressed the social struggles and the cultural mediations that take place under such circumstances. By focusing on the full dollarization Ecuador has experienced since 2000, and therefore by addressing a case that comes close to an ethnomethodological breach of our expectations about what currencies should be about and how they should relate to their own societies, I hope to shed new light on the relationship between money and national space. The study of societies that take up foreign currencies as their own, even when these belong to countries they might not necessarily sympathize with, may shed some light on the factors and processes that sustain the legitimacy of currencies, especially in situations where the money becomes alien to the national identity. This case has implications for how we understand alien monies, national spaces, and legitimacy in such situations as the current Eurozone crisis.