Soybean, bricks, dollars, and the reality of money: Multiple monies during currency exchange restrictions in Argentina (2011–15)

Mariana Luzzi, Ariel Wilkis


This article aims to show that the properties of money are temporally and relationally contingent. Through the effects of the currency exchange restrictions implemented in Argentina in 2011–15, we develop this perspective to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of currency pluralism. Based on a fieldwork conducted between 2014 and 2015 in the cities of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe, we describe uses and meanings of multiple currencies on two specific markets (real estate and soybean production). In these two cases, besides the long-term use of the US dollar for different transactions, the creation of new currencies relies on the definition of what is considered “real” in each universe (for instance, soy producers who take the “soybean” as the unit of account and store of value, or real estate developers who use “square meters” as a unit of account). The two cases we present here provide insight on the connections between dynamic currency pluralism, the temporality of transactions, and the experiences of money’s reality.


Argentina, money, soybeans, real estate, currency exchange, currency pluralism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/698222