Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa

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University of Chicago Press, Mar 1, 2004 - Business & Economics - 207 pages
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In America, almost all the money in circulation passes through financial institutions every day. But in Nigeria's "cash and carry" system, 90 percent of the currency never comes back to a bank after it's issued. What happens when two such radically different economies meet and mingle, as they have for centuries in Atlantic Africa?

The answer is a rich diversity of economic practices responsive to both local and global circumstances. In Marginal Gains, Jane I. Guyer explores and explains these often bewildering practices, including trade with coastal capitalism and across indigenous currency zones, and within the modern popular economy. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Guyer demonstrates that the region shares a coherent, if loosely knit, commercial culture. She shows how that culture actually works in daily practice, addressing both its differing scales of value and the many settings in which it operates, from crisis conditions to ordinary household budgets. The result is a landmark study that reveals not just how popular economic systems work in Africa, but possibly elsewhere in the Third World.
  

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Contents

Introduction Diversity Bewilderment and the Multiplicity of African Money
3
Conversions Asymmetrical Transactions
27
SCALES AND TROPES
49
Calculation Number and Asymmetry
51
Rank People and Money
68
Quality Commodities and Price
83
PERFORMANCES AND REPERTOIRES
97
Volatility A Performance in Modern Nigeria
101
Balances Households Budgets in a Ghanaian Study
131
CONCLUSIONS AND DIRECTIONS
153
Formalities Fixing Debt and Delay
155
Bewilderment Revisited
170
Appendix
177
References
181
Index
197
Copyright

Institutions Repertoires of Financial Option
115

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About the author (2004)

Jane I. Guyer is a professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author, most recently, of An African Niche Economy: Farming to Feed Ibadan and Money Matters: Instability, Values, and Social Payments in the Modern History of West African Communities.

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