The Minted-City: Money, Value, and Crises of Representation in Nineteenth-Century Colombia (1822-1903)
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This dissertation analyzes how Colombian criollos – people of real or imagined European origins – dealt with the problem of representing value as part of their efforts to build a “civilized” nation during the nineteenth century (1822-1903). It researches capitalist development from the perspective of the symbolic structure that makes the accumulation of capital possible. It emphasizes the role of finance in the historical process through which Colombia’s territory and people were imagined and organized around a core principle: the pursuit of profit. As the affective and discursive center of profit-making, money is the most important pivot of liberal governmentality. This study thus takes as its main object what Mary Poovey has called “monetary genres” (e.g., bonds, stocks, paper money) as well as a variety of texts (e.g., political economy, literature, statistical accounts, press advertisements, conduct manuals, investment prospectuses) that criollos consumed and produced to understand and manage the relation of money to value. The anxiety produced by the difficulties of locating value in an “economy” based on speculation shaped not only political economy, but virtually all spheres of life. The project argues that capitalist development in Colombia involved new modes of representation that secured the trust required by financial instruments – essentially promises to pay – while simultaneously making the economy vulnerable to cyclical crises of credibility. These authorial modes of representation have been largely produced in the country by an exclusive, white, male elite. The research thus underlines the continuing reliance of capitalism on colonial structures of power and reveals how the symbolic architecture of the financial system has historically played an important role in the reproduction of gender, race, and class hierarchies.
Latin American history
Finance and Literature
Representation of Value
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