A true coin of their dreams: Imaginary monies in Haiti (The 2010 Sidney Mintz Lecture)

Federico Neiburg


This article examines a singular feature of Haitian monetary practices: the generalized use of a currency that lacks material existence as an object, coin, or banknote—the Haitian dollar. I propose a historical and ethnographic pragmatics of currencies and units of measure to illuminate (a) the dynamic of the daily economic life of Haitian people, mostly of those living in the slums of Port-au-Prince; (b) the geographies of monies and calculation that constitute the highly pluralized Haitian monetary space; and (c) the relational productivity of fictional currencies. Through an ethnographic inquiry into the meanings and uses of such currencies, this article problematizes the relations between materiality and immateriality that cloud our thinking about money, monetary transactions, and calculations. 


Haiti, money, calculation, measures, transactions, materialities

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau6.1.005