Hierarchical multiplicity in the international monetary system: from the slave trade to the Franc CFA in West Africa

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Abstract

This article investigates the relationship between international currency hierarchies and ‘societal multiplicity’. I provide an historical sketch of how West African societies and the rest of the world have engaged in trading money for slaves and raw commodities for centuries. I concur that societal multiplicity can indeed be seen as lying at the root of the global monetary system with its multiple currencies. However, my analysis offers three criticisms: First, the multiplicity project fails to give adequate attention to hierarchies in general and to those that come with monetary relations in particular. Second, Because of the existence of the world market, there is always a global and hierarchical sphere that is non-identical to societies and transcends their interaction. Third, money as both global and multiple relation points at the need for a more dynamic understanding of ‘society’ as political and economic borders do not necessarily map unto each other.

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Koddenbrock, K. (2020). Hierarchical multiplicity in the international monetary system: from the slave trade to the Franc CFA in West Africa. Globalizations, 17(3), 516–531. https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731.2019.1671111

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