The Steppe's Capital: the Meanings of Money in late-Qing Mongolia

Lecture | February 28 | 4 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Devon Dear, Independent Scholar

 Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), UC Berkeley Mongolia Initiative

Sociologist and philosopher Georg Simmel famously described money as “colourless.” For many historians, money, like number, has been an equalizer capable of bringing previously-incomparable objects into relation. This talk challenges that idea as it explores the multiplicity of currencies and ad-hoc commodity monies used in Qing Mongolia in the 19th century as it explores Mongolians' roles in defining monies and currencies. Drawing upon data gathered from thousands of quotidian transactions, ranging from smuggling cases to the budgets of Manchu bureaucrats, the talk proposes a history of money beyond its computational and symbolic capacities.

 ieas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-2809