[Call for Papers] Money as a Democratic Medium 2.0

June 15-17, 2023

Cambridge, MA
June 15-17, 2023

Sponsored by: INET; PERI, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; LPE@HLS; APPEAL; Harvard Law School; University of Würzburg

Hamburg, Germany
June 15-16, 2023

Sponsored by: Hamburg Institute for Social Research and THE NEW INSTITUTE; University of Würzburg

Keynote Speakers

The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, Q.C., M.P.

Prime Minister of Barbados

Saule Omarova, Professor of Law

Cornell Law School

Call for Panel and Independent Paper Proposals
(Deadline: Feb. 01, 2023)

Submit: Panel Proposal or Submit: Independent Paper Proposal

We are delighted to announce Money as a Democratic Medium 2.0. The Conference will be held at two sites in order to maximize participation while minimizing carbon impacts: Cambridge, MA (Harvard Law School, June 15-17, 2023) and Hamburg, Germany (the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and THE NEW INSTITUTE,  June 15-16, 2023).  The Conference is open to all students of money, credit, and finance, the monetary system, and the modern economy, including members of the public. We will offer robust online access and we encourage distant participants to join us virtually.

The Conference includes opportunities for specialized exchange in panel sessions and plenary events of interest to the broad audience.

  • For specialized panel sessions, we welcome proposals by February 1st, 2023. To propose a panel, please submit your proposal using the link provided above or on the conference webpage: https://justmoney.org/money-as-a-democratic-medium-2-0/. Your material should include panel participants, paper abstracts (1-2 pages each), and a confirmed commentator. We will receive independent paper submissions, but their chances of acceptance depend on the vagaries of other submissions. Panels and papers in the areas identified below are particularly encouraged. In addition, there will be limited opportunity for emerging scholars (i.e. undergraduate and graduate students) to workshop with experienced faculty. Dependent on participant interest, zoom “poster board” sessions will also allow participants to share work and receive feedback online.
  • Additional plenary sessions will be announced.
  • Registration for the Conference will open on March 1st, 2023.

Money has moved to the front and center of debates over democratic governance.  In the five years since our first conference (Money as a Democratic Medium 1.0, 2018),  scholarship and policy contention in the field have exploded.  Money as a Democratic Medium 2.0 takes that development as its focus. The Conference aims to amplify inquiry, research, and debate over money as a public project. The 2023 meeting will bring together those working across disciplines, locales, and subject areas to consider the way societies make money and allocate credit as an essential element in the way they govern themselves.

Recent events compel the focus. Twice over the last two decades, governments world-wide have leapt to rescue the financial infrastructure that undergirds modern markets. The amounts they appropriated, the way they distributed those funds, and the decision-makers who controlled the process – all raised questions about democratic voice and accountability. In the United States alone, officials in 2008 committed more than $5 trillion in lending, guarantees, or financing to firms operating in the capital markets, while individuals who lost homes scrambled for relief. In the COVID-19 pandemic of 2021, the Federal Reserve mobilized the same magnitude of funds at even greater speed to maintain the markets for public bonds, corporate borrowing, and other financial assets. Proactive after the experience of 2008, Congress’s emergency spending still failed to match the Fed’s, even as it faced repeated obstacles, drew the ire of deficit hawks, and triggered blame as the catalyst for inflation. The very character of the monetary architecture seemed skewed to fail the people it was said to serve. In Europe, too, the two global crises significantly changed the structure of government and the economy. The ECB and national banks have since played a significant role in supporting the financial sector with the aim of preventing economic collapse inter alia through large-scale quantitative easing. The pandemic, furthermore, prompted unprecedented fiscal measures, not only at the member state, but also the EU level. Yet, governments stopped short of complementing the monetary with a fiscal union and discontent has been rising about the distributive effects of monetary as well as fiscal policy.

Other phenomena escalate that concern. As the evidence of rising inequality mounts, so do arguments about how monetary drivers, from financial instability to predatory credit structures, may contribute to it. Financialization appears to have taken on a life of its own. On the one hand, the industry continues as a critical interface in the markets. On the other hand, scholars document increased returns to traders without any gains in efficiency or accessibility to most individuals. Stabilizing that sector remains the conventional priority of central banks. At the same time, climate change gains destabilizing force at the existential level, challenging those institutions, legislatures, and the banking industry to turn the power of modern money-making towards the ultimate public welfare. Over the past few years, a new set of institutions and approaches have attempted to promote alignment of the financial system with the Paris Agreement, and to manage climate-related risks to the financial system. Largely untheorized, these new institutions and approaches require discussion as to their strengths and weaknesses.

Each of these issues reverberates globally, joined by an array of other exigencies. Monetary sanctions, for example, carry grave geopolitical ramifications: some see a route around expanding militarized conflict, while others decry the strategy for creating new nation-state blocs. The status of the dollar as the global currency comes in for daily debate; shifts in its hegemony would mean regional realignment across the globe. Meanwhile, the Eurozone’s experiment in monetary governance has wrapped representative institutions, courts, and transnational organizations into novel relations. Residents there and in polities across the globe debate degrees of “monetary sovereignty” as an index of self-determination. That concern is closely tied to rising burdens of sovereign debt, a challenge configured by patterns of early and current colonialism. The phenomenon implicates both international financial organizations and the fractured landscape of debt resolution and restructuring.

The 2023 MDM Conference, like its predecessor in 2018, distinctively frames new work on money, credit, and the financial architecture: it recognizes them as elements of a public project rather than privately produced phenomena. Given that frame, the Conference will focus on the following themes. (1) Issues of institutional design, (2) the fit of that design to democratic governance, and (3) the globalization of monetary structures as a challenge to domestic decision-making.

First, we invite work that opens monetary institutions to view. Comparative and historical work suggests that societies have experimented constantly with different monetary structures and methods of allocating credit. Everyday experience reiterates that lesson. The crises of 2008 and 2020, the rise of cryptocurrencies, the European Monetary Union, recurring sovereign debt crises – all have catalyzed intense debates over institutional reform. The Conference will feature work that enables us to explore more effectively the complex engineering that produces modern money and credit, to evaluate the way our monetary orders have changed and the capacities at stake when they do, and to consider causal connections previously obscured, including the relationships between governmental structures and market processes. The focus will include arguments about forward-looking institutional alternatives, like central bank digital currencies, the political and normative premises that shape them, and their impact on shaping the modern political economy.

Second, the Conference directs attention to the claims that the public rightfully makes on the monetary media organized in its name. Recent scholarship on money details the governmental infrastructure that undergirds most moneys, the public obligation that anchors demand for the medium, and the enforcement and regulatory practices that consolidate the payments system. That public commitment suggests that we have profound legal and political obligations to evaluate monetary design as a matter of democratic governance. But such a mandate arguably collides with the very structure of the modern financial architecture, which insulates central banks to ensure their independence while incorporating significant commercial bank voice into their administration. The intricacy of modern finance compounds the challenge, as does the expansion and important role of expertise in monetary policy, bank management, and financial development. The question remains how members of a monetary community can participate in the way that body operates, how they can claim fair access to the medium, and what structures engender well-being and opportunity, as opposed to dearth and exclusion.

Third, and new in 2023, the Conference will focus on the global dimension of monetary governance. From the dynamics of the Gold Standard to the taper tantrum of 2013 to the crescendo of dollar-denominated sovereign debt that came with COVID, communities worldwide have been tied at the monetary level. “Interdependence” has not meant equal fates. Empire traveled financial trajectories while international financial institutions turn on the capacity and centrality of the global hegemons. Monetary shocks often hit countries with less financial clout harshly, irrespective of their efforts at economic orthodoxy. The EU continues to revise its political alliance through an intensely monetary process. Meanwhile, markets respond more abruptly to the decisions of investors world-wide than the efforts of officials to coordinate. Perhaps most striking, monetary authorities answer to domestic mandates even as their actions create lucrative opportunities or catastrophic impacts abroad.

The 2023 Conference invites work on these themes from any discipline, including law, the social sciences, and humanities broadly construed. Interdisciplinary approaches are welcome.

Conference and Climate
The Conference structure aims to balance the great value of in-person meeting with responsible measures to mitigate the impact of carbon emissions. Our dual locations will enable those participants proximate to Cambridge, MA, and Hamburg to avoid long distance travel.  The Cambridge meeting is open to all regional participants to attend in-person along with a limited number of long-distant registrants.  At Hamburg we will be able to host approximately 60 participants. The Conference will maximize Zoom and hybrid access for all. Participants choosing to attend online/remotely will enjoy the same opportunities to present their work as in-person participants. We will also do our best to use available technology to integrate and facilitate discussion between remote and in-person participation modes. For in-person participants, we will encourage the use of ground, as opposed to air, travel. Finally, the Conference will be designed to accommodate working groups that normally meet online to make use of conference time and space to gather, maximizing the productivity of in-person meeting.

Specifically, the Conference will include:

  1. A robust hybrid option – zoom and online interactive capacity
  2. Cambridge in-person meeting:
    1. Regional participants (northeastern US) or those proximate for multiple reasons – open registration
    2. Long-distance participants traveling by air – 60 spaces (parallel capacity as MDM 1.0). These spaces will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis, with reservations for organizers, keynotes, plenary speakers, and accepted panelists. Graduate students will be able to register provisionally, as they apply for any required funding.
  3. Hamburg in-person meeting: 60 spaces
  4. Subsidized train travel — by application for graduate students and others without institutional support.
  5. A “layered” conference structure – making space and time available for affiliated working groups. Please notify conference organizers if you would like space set aside for your meeting.

We encourage attention to the following topic areas in specialized or broader sessions:

Financialization and Distribution
At issue here is the distributive impact of financialization, given recent work suggesting that a burgeoning financial sector has failed to increase productivity or exchange efficiency while claiming increasing profits. Observers have also raised concerns about how the existing channels of liquidity support used by central banks may augment the benefits to asset owners, even as they provide necessary relief in crises and ordinary times.

Democratizing Central Banks
The conditions that protect central banks from political manipulation also reduce democratic access to them. Existing channels of accountability depend on functional political oversight, an increasingly tenuous supposition in many nations, not least the fractured American landscape. The complexity of the monetary architecture exacerbates the problem, as does the arcane nature of much economic and financial expertise. In the wake of two crises (remedied, in large part, by copious support for finance with distributive impact that appears to have exacerbated inequality) a growing literature confronts the issue of whether the existing monetary bureaucracy can be justified and/or reformed.

Sovereign Debt
As a recent JustMoney roundtable noted, “the drawn-out COVID-19 shock is fueling an explosion in public and private debt stocks across the national income spectrum. It has disrupted nominally risk-free government debt markets, triggered massive capital flight from vulnerable countries, and sent central banks on an unprecedented asset-shopping spree.” The crisis – and the avalanche of sovereign debt defaults that is likely to follow – revealed an institutional architecture for sovereign debt resolution that is in fragments, following the demise of the norms that earlier controlled the process. The issue is what can or will be constructed in its stead.

Reconceptualizing Money: Public Utility, Mode of Governance, or Constitutional Structure?
Scholars approaching money as a public utility make a strong case for treating money as an integrated resource. Approaching the monetary system as a utility or infrastructural service reframes the government’s obligation to provide access, as well as the regulatory methods that should be applied to commercial banks, while also situating the monetary liberalization agenda that has prevailed in recent decades within a broader context of network, platform, and utility privatization and deregulation. Approaching money as a public utility both resonates with and diverges from understanding it as a mode of governance or matter of constitutional structure. The question here is how these and other approaches shape normative and political assumptions.

Public Banking, Public Purpose Finance, and Sustainable Credit
From a wide variety of angles, scholars are using monetary theory and history to illuminate the government’s unique capacities as a source of credit for socially beneficial projects and/or individual borrowers. State and municipal public banks, for example, could use money creative powers to lend to marginalized borrowers, or to support investments at society-wide levels to innovate in the face of chronic and intractable problems. Related proposals interrogate the possibility that the government, either through its post offices or its central bank, should provide transactional services directly to individuals.

Climate-Related Financial Risk
Central banks and bank supervisors are in the process of developing new frameworks to assess the risks climate change poses to individual financial institutions as well as to financial stability at large. Climate stress testing, climate-related capital requirements, corporate disclosures of climate-related risks, and the NGFS (Network for Greening the Financial System) scenarios underlie many of these efforts. New work analyzes the strengths and limitations of these new developments, the degree to which they incorporate key lessons from the Global Financial Crisis, and more generally, cross-country experience and experimentation in regulatory approaches.

Green Finance
Independent from risk-management, demand has increased for financial institutions to affirmatively contribute to climate mitigation effort. According to arguments for “alignment,” financial institutions should make lending and investment decisions that would help meet science-based targets for decarbonization, including the 2030 goal of 50% [global] emissions reduction. Thus, the commitments taken by members of GFANZ (Global Financial Alliance for Net Zero), a U.N. initiative now representing over $130 trillion in assets under management; new analytical tools like PACTA (Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment) and CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) that help measure a financial institutions’ level of alignment; and debates over incorporating alignment scores into financial regulations, thereby making them binding requirements. More generally, issues here include the broader theoretical frameworks appropriate to anchor arguments for climate alignment, including case studies of the close relationship between industrial and financial policies in successful industrial development, as well as the role of monetary architecture reform in discussions orienting climate-responsive international trade governance.

Central Bank Digital Currencies
New technologies invite central banks to create digital liabilities that could circulate as cash at the retail level. CBDCs could improve access, convenience, and transparency in payments transfer within existing banking structures. More ambitiously, the technology could reach individuals and families currently outside the banking system. The possibility that central banks offer accounts at the retail level may have more profound effects, including disintermediating commercial banks, otherwise changing their role as money creators, shifting channels of surveillance and accountability, and/or mitigating the risk of bank runs.

Race and Money
Scholars are increasingly examining public monetary systems and the private flows of value that they support as terrains that distribute resources, including access, authority, profits, and credit, along racial lines. Black-owned banks in the U.S., for example, appeal to communities resolved on self-determination but work at a continual handicap given their exclusion from networked benefits and the degradation of banking assets that accompanies discrimination in housing. Municipal bond markets are also weighted against underserved communities while channeling investment returns towards wealthier individuals.

Crypto and Virtual Currencies
The virtual world has become a test ground for re-theorizing the nature of money, the meaning and location of governance and law, and the line between money and payments systems. The turn towards stablecoins has increased concerns about the vulnerability of virtual assets to runs, the dangers to unwary investors, the adequacy and proper domain of the existing regulatory system, and the influence of industry on that system.

De-colonizing Money
Recent scholarship on the way that modern monetary forms travelled across the globe identifies them as a vector for imperialism; Britain’s manipulation of India’s entry onto the Gold Standard is only one obvious example. Elsewhere, the financial structure of credit operated systematically to privilege foreign, disproportionately European, investors, while saddling emerging economies with externally denominated debt. Debates today include the question whether it is possible to revise current monetary forms and relations to minimize the advantage of traditional financial centers, whether the architecture is irreparably skewed towards first movers, and/or whether the normative valence of the modern system is itself irreconcilable with de-colonization.

The Political Life of Money
If money is a complex collective enterprise, protean in design possibilities both in practice and conception, then it is fraught with moral significance and rightful claim to the concern of citizens as well as experts. One issue is how and whether transparency in money creation and design would affect governance; another issue is how it might affect or be affected by popular politicization.

Reparations and Monetary Worldbuilding
Creative approaches to finance affect the attainability of reparations. So also does the reframing of money as a public project. One contemporary question is whether transparency about public finance changes popular calculations about societal responsibility and capacity. Another considers ways in which the global monetary architecture, linked as it has been to structuring the relations of colonialism and essential as it remains in maintaining the world they have built, might now be restructured and leveraged as a tool in global causes of justice and redistribution, particularly as regards supporting countries of the Global South in the climate transition.

The Case for / against Commercial Banking
Recognizing banks as agents that create money by public delegation raises a set of essential questions. Why do banks hold that role?  What is the evidence that they are experts in their role? And to what ends have they leveraged their position? Has their privilege been vetted and justified at the political level? Do they face any mechanisms holding them accountable to the public?

Complementary Currencies
Modern sovereign moneys have collective roots: the units that circulate represent liabilities spent and received in the name of a group. By the same token, groups can create other currencies, whether at the informal, municipal, sectoral, or regional level. According to their design, such currencies can operate alongside an official currency; they can displace that currency; or they can circulate to different ends, like the support of local business or non-commercial exchange. Complementary currencies offer a set of natural experiments in money design, collective mobilization, and group dynamics.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ‘West’, and most prominently, the U.S. and EU, announced a slew of sanctions aimed to cripple the Russian economy, and hurt the interests of a select number of its oligarchs. The sanctions, marked most prominently by the goal of cutting off Russian banks from the system of international finance, put the design of the monetary system and its global integration into the spotlight. Issues include how monetary sanctions compare to the traditional economic or trades blockade, how effective they are, how they relate to conventional geopolitical blocs, whom they impact most sharply, and how they might change national and investor calculations about global finance.

U.S. Dollar Hegemony and the Global Rise of China
New developments, often involving China, have led to questions about the future of the U.S. dollar’s status as global reserve currency, as well as to broader reconsideration of the relationship between monetary and political hegemony. One issue is what impact, if any, China’s outward direct foreign investment practices in the Global South, including the Belt and Road initiative, will have on the role of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and similar institutions associated with ‘Western’ orthodoxy and invasive conditionality. Another concerns the potential risks a notoriously opaque and precarious Chinese financial system and its fleet of State-Owned Enterprises might pose to the global economy, particularly as domestic developments paint a picture of increasing authoritarian consolidation.

Over the past decade, a hundred flowers have bloomed in the study of money, banking, and finance as a variety of new technologies, techniques, sources, and approaches have multiplied the number of questions productively asked of money, shedding new light on its actual and potential forms and roles in societies throughout space and history. Among these are mappings and analyses of payment networks, experiments in currency design, new archival discoveries, and novel theoretical interpretations of older narratives — how can these diverse research agendas be put productively into conversation with one another? What can novel approaches add to our collective understanding of the issues of focus?


Susan J. Smith, ALM

Faculty Assistant to Professor Christine Desan

Harvard Law School


Final call for papers – 6th RAMICS Congress, Sofia, October 2022

Submissions to the 6th RAMICS conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, in October 2022 are still possible. 

We were  made aware of some misunderstandings. In consequence the deadline for abstracts has now been extended until July 4th, 8am.

We would like to clarify the following:

  • The congress will be hybrid: participation is possible both in person AND online (via Zoom), the latter at a reduced fee (from 50€).   
  • The congress is open for academia, practitioners and policymakers, all invited to share their latest insights. 
  • For researchers, presentations of their findings are possible for both published and unpublished articles. 
  • For practitioners reporting on their ongoing projects, the abstracts submitted under Theme 5 (“Review and Renew”) will not be judged by scientific criteria and will be accepted until Sept 15th. 
  • You do not need to become a member of RAMICS to participate in the congress.
  • Presenters will be invited to submit new versions of their work to the research journal associations with RAMICS: The International Journal of Community Currency Research (IJCCR). But publishing in that journal is neither required nor guaranteed for papers presented at the congress.

The full call for papers, general information about the Congress and updates can be found on the congress website, on Facebook, or get in touch at ramics@unwe.bg.

[Call for Papers] Alternative currencies. Commodities and services as exchange currencies in the monetarized economies of the 13th to 18th centuries.

The results of this call for research papers will be presented at Prato during the 54th Study Week (May 14th-18th, 2023).

[Download Call for Papers 2023]

[Download Format for Abstract Submission]

[Original Post]

Ricc. 2669, FILIPPO CALANDRI, Trattato di aritmetica, Sec. XV, fine; Firenze; bottega di Boccardino il vecchio.
Baratto di lana a panno, c. 66r
© Biblioteca Riccardiana
Ricc. 2669, FILIPPO CALANDRI, Trattato di aritmetica, Sec. XV, fine; Firenze; bottega di Boccardino il vecchio. Baratto di lana a panno, c. 66r. © Biblioteca Riccardiana

According to Adam Smith, the division of labor intensified the scale of barter transactions and ultimately led to the growth of money (1776, Book 1, 81 ff). The transition from barter to money (even commodity money) thus signaled the progression from a natural economic framework to a monetary economy. Yet the “paradigm of the savage devoted to bartering” and the primary use of barter have been strongly challenged by Karl Polanyi for whom “barter, payment in kind, and exchange constitute a principle of economic behavior that depends on the market model to be effective” (Polanyi 1944). Even Fernand Braudel pointed out the existence of barter “at the heart of monetary economies” (1967, 338). More recent scholarship by historians and anthropologists such as David Graeber (2011) has also worked to dismantle this “barter fable”, by acknowledging that practices represented by barter, payment in kind, and exchange were not necessarily “primitive” nor strictly opposed to the use of money in buying and selling.

The whole Study Week will be devoted to the study of the importance and exact place of such alternative trade practices in the economies of the 13th to 18th centuries. If the expression “alternative currencies” has in the past generally referred to monies used as an alternative to national or prevailing multinational monetary systems, we wish here to concentrate attention on payments in kind or commodities and services employed as means of barter in the monetarized economies of the 13th to 18th centuries. Although the monetary theory has focused mainly on credit, the money of account and real money in the form of coins or paper money, a striking feature of the circulation of money is that coins or paper money have not prevented payments in kind, partial or not. While this perspective on barter has been interpreted as evidence of the existence of a world of “scarce money” limited to the countryside and periods of money shortage, or as reflecting the desire of authorities to fix the value of goods, these arguments have been refuted by researchers like Laurence Fontaine (2008), Craig Muldrew (2001), and Jean-Michel Servet (1988; 1994).

Barter has long been considered as a practice adapted to the absence of cash. In this respect, the world of peasants is often seen as the location par excellence for this type of alternative exchange. It would be a mistake, however, to think the practice was limited to rural areas. If we look closely at payment details in many contracts, for example, we can see that bartering or payments in kind were also present in the city. Linking the use of barter-only to the lack of money also overlooks the possibility that bartering may have been a choice since there is no indication that it is always done by default (Humphrey and Hugh-Jones, 1992). The alternative modes of exchange, on which the whole Study Week will focus, go beyond the simple palliative. In each case, we must question the reasons, meanings, and economic consequences in order to understand the specific characteristics of each instance of the use of alternative currencies.

These payments, partly or entirely in kind, are found in all economic activities, whether in production, markets, wages, or consumption.

Production. In contracts, it was not uncommon, for example, for reused raw materials to be included and given a value, whether the materials were the rubble of the previous building or the metal of an old bell that helped to pay for making a new one.
Wages. A part of many salaries could be given in food, lodging, clothing, and even tools. Some occupations were accustomed to this kind of remuneration, such as domestic servants who received clothes from their masters on top of food and lodging. In the textile and coal industries, production residues might be passed on to workers. Administrators were also be expected to pay with – and to receive – gifts, creating tensions between gifts and corruption.
Services. The aristocratic economy could fuel payments in alternative currencies because so many services were remunerated by gifts: for example, in the Grand Tour, aristocrats carried objects with them to pay for most services. In both rural and urban areas, rents could be paid in labor, transport, or by means of some maintenance work.
Exchanges. In the city as in the countryside, a lack of cash could preclude the use of money, but “reciprocal exchanges” (Lambrecht, 2003) could involve partial payments in money, materials, or products.

A better understanding of these practices will help craft a more nuanced economic history in which the essential role of money is balanced by a consideration of “quasi-currencies” (Lopez 1981).

Papers should consider one or more of these questions:

  1. Mechanisms for using alternative currencies
  1. Did barter, payment in kind or in service, reciprocal exchange, etc… entail contemporary, complementary, or competing uses of alternative currencies?
  2. Was the use of an alternative currency linked to a particular economic situation, such as an episode of growth, decline, or economic crisis?
  3. What links did quasi-money have with money? Did these links change according to place, period, or economic conditions?

2. The diffusion of alternative currencies

  1. If we consider the use of quasi-currencies as linked to more than the agricultural world, how can we appreciate their diffusion in the economy of the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries?
  2. Were barter, payment in kind or in service, and reciprocal exchange more widely used in some production sectors than in others?
  3. To what extent were quasi-currencies reserved or limited – generally or depending on the circumstances – to particular types of transactions, such as paying for certain wages, services, real estate, etc…?

3. The nature of alternative currencies

  1. What were quasi-currencies? Beyond the broad categories under which we can classify them, did certain goods, services, debts or claims appear as privileged quasi-currencies?
  2. What were the qualities required by a good or a service to become a quasi-currency?
  3. Were there any differences and changes in the nature of quasi-currencies according to geographical area, types of transactions, times or periods of the year?

4. Uses of alternative currencies
a) As a means of exchange, could certain quasi-currencies, like land, also serve as a store of value? Could alternative currencies be used to measure the value or be used as instruments of economic policy?
b) Did European penetration in Africa, America, and Asia make the use of alternative currencies more frequent to facilitate the exchange of goods?
c) While recent work highlights the link between the share of in-kind compensation and the length of employment, the question of the usefulness of alternative currencies remains open.

Boone, Marc, and Howell, Martha, (eds.), In But Not of the Market. Exchanging Movables in Late Medieval Society and Early Modern Economy, Bruxelles 2007.
Braudel, Fernand, Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme XVe-XVIIIe siècle, t. I., Paris, Armand Colin, 1967.
Fontaine, Laurence, L’économie morale, pauvreté, crédit et confiance dans l’Europe préindustrielle, Paris, Gallimard, 2008.
Graeber, David, Debt: The First 5000 Years, New-York, Melville House, 2011.
Humphrey, Caroline, et Hugh-Jones, Stephen, Barter, Exchange, and Value. An Anthropological Approach, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Lambrecht, Thijs, « Reciprocal Exchange, Credit, and Cash: Agricultural Labour Markets and Local In the Southern Low Countries during the Eighteenth Century », Continuity and Change, vol. 18, no 2, 2003, p. 237-261.
Lopez, Roberto S., « Discorso introduttivo », in La moneta nell’economia europea. Secoli XIII-XVIII, a cura di Vera Barbagli Bagnoli, Firenze, Le Monnier, 1981, p. 3 (Atti delle « Settimane di studio » e altri convegni 7).
Muldrew, Craig, « ‘Hard Food for Midas’. Cash and its Social Value in Early Modern England », Past & Present, no. 170, Febr. 2001, p. 78-120.
Polanyi, Karl, The Great Transformation, New York, Farad & Rinehart, 1944.
Servet, Jean-Michel, « La fable du troc », Dix-huitième Siècle, n°26, 1994, p. 103-115.
Servet, Jean-Michel, « La monnaie contre l’État ou la fable du troc », Droit et monnaie, 1988, p. 49-62.
Smith, Adam, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, London, W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1776.
Spufford, Peter, Money and Its Use in Medieval Europe, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1988, p. 382-384.

Expected Results

The selected papers will be presented and discussed at Prato in the course of Study Week 2023. After the discussion at the Study Week sessions, scholars should complete and revise their texts by 30 June 2023. All contributions received by the Institute will be subject to anonymous adjudication before publication.

Call for Papers

Scholars are invited to send their proposals by compiling an abstract that will be reviewed by the Executive Committee.

The paper should represent an original contribution and be either generally comparative or a specific case study that speaks to the larger questions set out here. Participants who are pursuing a PhD, should have completed it before the start of the conference.

Papers proposed by projects or collaborative groups that link scholars from different countries and institutions will be assessed with particular interest if they offer a comparative analysis in geographical or diachronic terms across two or more related research themes. We will also consider innovative session formats for these type of proposals.

The completed format must be received by 15 April 2022 to the following e-mail address: datini@istitutodatini.it

The Executive Committee will only take fully completed formats into consideration and will decide by 2022 whether they have been accepted when authors of the selected proposals will be notified. Depending on the Institute’s financial resources, at least 25 scholars will be provided with hospitality at Prato for the Study Week. The Council may also invite up to 20 additional scholars to participate in the project without any right to hospitality or reimbursement.

The Fondazione Datini will award for the Prato conference up to 10 Travel Bursaries to cover travel costs for the conference to the maximum of 250 euros per grant for postdoctoral scholars who do not hold a full-time academic position. Applicants must send the travel bursaries form to the Fondazione Datini with their paper by 10 April 2023. The grant will be paid during the conference on the presentation of travel receipts.

The members of the Executive Committee are: Erik Aerts (Leuven, President), Michael North (Greifswald, Vice-President), Paolo Malanima (Catanzaro, Vice-President), Giampiero Nigro (Florence, Scientific Director), Philippe Bernardi (Paris), Hilario Casado Alonso (Valladolid), Olga Katsiardi-Hering (Athens), Maryanne Kowaleski (New York), Giuseppe Petralia (Pisa), Gaetano Sabatini (Rome Tre).

All submitted contributions must be original and not previously published or translated from previous publications.

The provisional texts of the selected contributions or at least a detailed synthesis must reach the Fondazione Datini (Datini Foundation) by 10 April 2023. They will be made available (with protected access reserved for the participants of the project and members of the Scientific Committee) before the Study Week in order to allow a deeper discussion of their contents.
Authors who fail to send their provisional texts to the Fondazione that day, can not be included in the final program. In absence of the author, the synthesis will be read during the conference.

During the week, participants will offer a summary presentation of their contribution lasting 20 minutes.
Simultaneous translation from and to Italian and English will be available.

The definitive texts of the paper, revised by the authors following the discussion (maximum 60,000 characters) must be sent to the Institute by 30 June 2023.
They will be subject to anonymous adjudication. Texts that pass the assessment stage will be published in a special volume within a year.

For the purpose of publication, texts will be accepted in Italian, French, English, Spanish, and German.
Authors who are not writing in their native language are advised to have the language of their text vetted and corrected before submitting their paper for the assessment stage since one of the requirements for publication is that the grammar and writing style meet high academic standards.

[ Conference ] 2nd Italian National Meeting on Eco-Solidarity and Alternative Currencies – 16-17 October 2021 (Milan, Italy)

As part of the Monete Laboratory project, the meeting is supported by researchers and activists from RetiCS, Lombard Coordination of Time Banks, Co-Energia, Ephemeral, ForumCt, Mi Fido di Noi, RIES (Network Italian Solidarity Economy), School of Political Activation. The objectives pursued are the following:

– spread the knowledge about complementary currency systems, and use them to solve issues related to the environmental sustainability, and governance of public and common goods;

– consider those community and complementary currency systems most suitable to sustain eco-solidarity practices;

– stimulate communication and interaction between the different projects of community and complementary currency systems, local governments, and policymakers.

How to participate

The event can be attended online. Please send an email to laboratoriomonete [at] gmail.com. For info and updates, please check the Facebook page and the RETICS website.

[Conference] 7th MRC Conference on 21-22 September 2021 (Sofia,Bulgaria)

Dear RAMICS subscribers,

It is our great honor to kindly invite you to the 7th Annual Monetary and Economic Scientific Conference – THE NEW NORMALITY AFTER THE PANDEMIC – AN ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE  
which will be hosted by the Monetary and Economic Research Center jointly with the Department of Finance of UNWE and the Economic and Politics Institute on 21 – 22 September 2021 at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia and online. MRC Annual Conference provides an opportunity for fellows and non-fellows of MRC to exchange ideas and to discuss results from economic research. The main panels of the conference will be:

1. Monetary and Financial Economics 

2. International Economics and International Political Economy 

3. Economic and monetary History and History of Economic Thought 

4. Environmental, social, and solidarity economy

5. Management and Marketing 

The conference is open to anybody involved in these research areas, including both young and experienced researchers, Ph.D. students, post-doctoral researchers, and professionals from business, government, and non-governmental institutions. Conference papers will be published on the website of MRC and selected papers will be published in a special issue of Economic Alternatives Journal.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us: mrc@unwe.bg.

Stay safe,

RAMICS Communication Staff

[ Workshop ] Who rules the money: the legal challenge of complementary currencies as a social innovation

Sander Van Parijs (Muntuit vzw), Diana Kretschmann (Possible Today), Nicolas Franka (Financite), Christian Gelleri (Chiemgauer), and Marek Hudon (ULB) will host a dedicated interactive session on complementary currencies at the European Social Economy Summit 2021.

On the program at 26th of May 10:00 – 13:00:

Who rules the money: the legal challenge of complementary currencies as a social innovation

Complementary currencies are rising in Europe. As many social innovations, they struggle with the legal framework provided by the EU – e.g. E-money directive, public procurement, etc., the variety of translations by its member states, and policies of their own state – e.g. fiscal policy. Through the interactive Open Space Methodology, it will be possible to explore creative solutions and formulate a joint agenda.

There will be break-out rooms on Governance, E-money, Public procurement, and Digital currencies. For inspiration, it will be possible to work with concrete tensions and solutions from the field, while also encouraging reflection on the topics.

Attendance is free, but participants have to register.

[Conference] Liquidity-Saving through Obligation-Clearing and Mutual Credit

Friday, 5 March 2021 – 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm GMT. Please register at the Meetup event by clicking here.

Tomaž Fleischman will present his paper, ‘Liquidity-Saving through Obligation-Clearing and Mutual Credit: An Effective Monetary Innovation for SMEs in Times of Crisis’, followed by questions and a general discussion.

Published late last year, this paper demonstrates the remarkable potential for liquidity saving (in straight terms, cashflow improvements) in the context of an SME trading network from two mechanisms – obligation-clearing (continuous multilateral invoice offsetting) and mutual credit (pooled trade credit).

In crude terms, each mechanism alone reduces the need for hard cash to settle invoices by around 25% for a typical participant in the network – and further, they can operate in tandem without diminishing this impact, for a typical 50% reduction in the quantity of cash needed within the network to finance internal trade.

This is not a theoretical result – Tomaž (who works for Slovenian company BE Solutions [http://www.be-solutions.si/]) and his co-authors, Paolo Dini and Giuseppe Littera used Tetris software to analyse a real dataset of over 138,000 transactions from 3199 firms, with a total value of >€31M, to produce these results.

The mechanisms analysed are not theoretical either – the Slovenian state has been operating a continuous clearing system for decades, which have helped that country weather several financial crises. And the Sardex network in Sardinia (from which the data originates) operates a Mutual Credit system that powers ~€50M per year in trade, with no bank-money involved.

We will discuss how these tools – which are well known and routinely used by banks and large corporations – can now be made available for use by SME networks and local community wealth-building initiatives.

The full paper is here: https://www.mdpi.com/1911-8074/13/12/295/htm

RAMICS Online Roundtable on March 5, 2021

At a time of uncertainty about the future and increased precarity in the present, we at RAMICS believe that complementary and community currencies have become and even more relevant tool to build community resilience and hopefully help us transition towards a more sustainable future. So, while the pandemic has forced the bi-annual RAMICS conference to be postponed, we see the need to keep the conversation alive. For this reason, we are organizing an online Round-table on March 5.

The round-table will focus on the question: What ideas, technologies and practices are conducive to the development and institutionalization of complementary currencies?
Presenters will be Chikako Nakayama, Manabu Kuwata, Fabienne Pinos, Rolf Schroeder and Marcus Petz.
They will help us advance the conversation on ideas, technologies and practices advancing efforts to implement complementary currencies.

Mark the date in your calendar, stay tuned, and join the conversation on March 5, 17.00-19.00 Japan time, or 09.00-11.00 Central European time.

Click on the link to join the round-table https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/63626993784

[Seminar] Complementary Currencies for economic and social change – Call for Papers

Call for Papers

Complementary currencies and social change

18-20 July 2020

University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Deadline for abstract submission: 6 January 2020

Deadline for full paper submission: 10 June 2020

Organizers: “Alternatives to Capitalism” Research Network in partnership with RAMICS Research Association on Monetary Innovation and Community and Complementary Currency Systems

Chairs and discussants: Giacomo Bazzani (University of Florence), Philipp Degens (University of Hamburg), Dirk Holemans (University of Antwerpen), Mikko Laamanen (Royal Holloway, University of London), Malu Villela (University of Bristol)


For more than two decades now, various forms of complementary currencies emerged all over the world, aiming at “taking back local economies” (North 2014). CCs are commonly understood as media of exchange (Hallsmith/Lietaer 2011) or accounting systems (Fare/Ould- Ahmed 2017) that are used within a particular group of users. Responding to broader debates on our current monetary system, they exemplify how civil society actors offer various attempts from the local to the global level to reconstruct money in order to make it a tool for economic, social, political and/or ecological purposes. In most cases, they tend to be, however, rather small and short-termed.

This panel addresses complementary currency schemes as actors of economic and social change. It particularly aims to identify factors that influence the success and longevity of such schemes. A comparative discussion of different forms and types shall help to explore what internal and external conditions seem to facilitate or hamper success. Related issues might also be discussed, such as the underlying ethics, the modes of economic exchange within the circuits, their contribution to sustainable development and/or resilience.

We, therefore, invite conceptual, theoretical, and empirical contributions from various disciplines (e.g. sociology, economics, anthropology, geography…) that examine (among others):

  • Organizational structure and modes of governance of the currency scheme
  • Participation of consumers and/or businesses, including issues of integration and exclusion
  • Monetary design of the currency (e.g. creation process; links to monetary system etc)
  • Networks of actors and organizations involved, including municipalities, businesses, and civil society organizations
  • Values, ethics, and ideologies underlying the scheme
  • Potential of CCs to contribute to sustainability or resilience
  • Potential for social change and engagement with disadvantaged communities

Please submit abstracts of no longer than 500 words to giacomo.bazzani (at) unifi.it and philipp.degens (at) uni-hamburg.de by 6 January 2020. Submissions would also need to include 3 key words. Full papers should be submitted by 10 June 2020.

[Conference] Complementary currencies and societal challenges – Call for Papers

Call for Papers

International conference on complementary currencies

Complementary currencies and societal challenges:

Crossing academic and practitioners knowledge/perspectives

Time: 21-22 November, 2019 

Venue: Brussels, Belgium

Institutional organizers of the research seminar: the Centre for European Research in Microfinance (CERMi) and the Research Association on Monetary Innovation and Community and Complementary Currency Systems (RAMICS)

The surge of growth of cryptocurrencies and digital money have recently caught the attention of both management scholars and practitioners (Brière et al., 2015; Dodgson et al., 2015; Iansiti & Lakhani, 2017; Lehr & Lamb, 2018; Michelman, 2017; Posnett, 2015; Vergne & Swain, 2017). However, cryptocurrencies are only one of the latest forms of complementary currencies (Blanc, 2016). Before the emergence of cryptocurrencies, complementary currencies were mainly conceived of and issued by citizens, nonprofits, businesses, and even local public administrations, and circulated within a defined geographical region or community (Cohen, 2017; Dissaux & Fare, 2017; Guéorguieva-Bringuier & Ottaviani, 2018; Lietaer, 2001). Also known as local, social, regional and alternative currencies, these complementary currency systems are often developed to respond to societal needs and aspirations that official currencies do not address (Meyer & Hudon, 2017; Fraňková et al., 2017; North, 2007). Specifically, they can be designed to promote sustainable behavior, build community social capital, and foster trade and local development (Blanc & Fare, 2013; Collom, 2007; Gomez & Helmsing, 2008; Marshall & O’Neill, 2018; Seyfang & Longhurst, 2013). For example, inter-enterprise currencies are mainly used in business-to-business networks in order to facilitate the exchange of goods and services between small and medium-sized enterprises (Meyer & Hudon, Forthcoming; Stodder, 2009).

Complementary currencies are socio-economic innovations aiming to address societal challenges of social cohesion, economic inclusion and environmental preservation (Stodder, 2009; Joachain & Klopfert, 2014; Michel & Hudon, 2015, Sanz, 2016). This conference aims to gather researchers and practitioners to explore and debate the potential of complementary currencies for sustainable development and socio-economic resilience (Ulanowicz et al., 2009; Gregory, 2014; Graugaard, 2012). We believe that the topic is one that is predestined for cross-disciplinary research and for thinking beyond established boundaries. We invite conceptual and empirical submissions drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives and diverse methodologies to explore complementary currencies, including researchers working on cryptocurrencies.

The Complementary Currencies and Societal Challenges conference will be held in Brussels, Belgium. The event is designed to include academic and practitioner knowledge and will be organized in two days:

  • November 21 (evening) – Closing event of (E)change Bruxelles project co-organized with Financité

This social event closes the (E)change Bruxelles action-research project co-organized between the Universite libre de Bruxelles and Financite. It celebrates the emergence of the new Brussels local currency ‘La Zinne’. Researchers participating to the research seminar of the 22nd November are welcome to join this social event, although it is not compulsory.

  • November 22: A research seminar (in English) on the following 5 themes:
    • CC and urban resilience
    • CC and civil society
    • Technology and CC
    • CC and entrepreneurship
    • Ethics and CC

Authors who wish to present their papers at the research seminar should submit electronically a three-page abstract by 01 September 2019 to the following mail address cermi@ulb.ac.be (with mhudon@ulb.ac.be in Cc), specifying to which of the 5 themes they wish to bring their contribution. Abstracts will be selected and authors will be notified and invited by 15 September 2019. A full paper will be due on 01 November 2019.

For questions, please contact Marek Hudon (mhudon@ulb.ac.be) and Tristan Dissaux (tristan.dissaux@ulb.ac.be).

We are looking forward to welcoming you on this Complementary Currencies and Societal Challenges event!

Scientific committee

Jérôme Blanc (Science-Po Lyon; Université Lumière-Lyon 2)

Tristan Dissaux (ULB) – Local Organizer

Marie Fare (Université Lumière-Lyon 2)

Georgina Gomez (Erasmus University)

Marek Hudon (ULB) – Local Organizer

Hélène Joachain (ULB) – Local Organizer

Marc Labie (UMONS)

Camille Meyer (Universiy of Victoria)

Ariane Szafarz (ULB)


Blanc, J., Fare, M. 2013. Understanding the role of governments and administrations in the implementation of community and complementary currencies. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 84(1), 63-81.

Blanc, J. 2016. Unpacking monetary complementarity and competition: a conceptual framework. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 41(1), 239-257.

Brière, M., Oosterlinck, K., Szafarz, A. 2015. Virtual currency, tangible return: Portfolio diversification with Bitcoin. Journal of Asset Management, 16(6), 365-373.

Collom, E. 2007. The motivations, engagement, satisfaction, outcomes and demographics of time bank participants: Survey findings from a U.S. system. International Journal of Community Currency Research, 11, 36-83

Dissaux, T, Fare, M. 2017. A collective redefinition of money: The case of the local currency “La Gonette” in Lyon, France. 29th annual SASE conference, Lyon.

Fraňková, E., Fousek, J., Kala, L., Labohý, J. 2014. Transaction network analysis for studying Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS): Research potentials and limitations. Ecological Economics, 107, 266-275.

Gómez, G.M., Dini, P., 2016. Making sense of a crank case: monetary diversity in Argentina (1999–2003). Cambridge Journal of Economics 40, 1421–1437.

Graugaard, J. D. 2012. A tool for building community resilience? A case study of the Lewes Pound. Local Environment, 17(2), 243-260.

Gregory, L. 2014. Resilience or resistance? Time banking in the age of austerity. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 22(2), 171-183.

Guéorguieva-Bringuier, L., Ottaviani, F. 2018. Opposition and isomorphism with the neoliberal logic in community exchange systems. Ecological Economics, 149, 88-97.

Gomez, G.M, Helmsing, A.H.J. 2008. Selective spatial closure and local economic development: What do we learn from the argentine local currency systems? World Development, 36(11), 2489-2511

Joachain, H., Klopfert, F. 2014. Smarter than metering? Coupling smart meters and complementary currencies to reinforce the motivation of households for energy savings. Ecological Economics 105, 89-96.

Meyer, C., Hudon, M. (forthcoming). Money and the commons: An investigation of complementary currencies and their ethical implications. Journal of Business Ethics.

Meyer, C., Hudon, M. 2017. Alternative organizations in finance: Commoning in complementary currencies. Organization, 24(5), 629-647.

Michel, A., Hudon, M. 2015. Community currencies and sustainable development: A systematic review. Ecological Economics, 116, pp. 160–171.

Marshall, A. P., O’Neill, D. W. 2018. The Bristol Pound: A tool for localisation?. Ecological Economics, 146, 273-281.

Sanz, E. O. 2016. Community currency (CCs) in Spain: An empirical study of their social effects. Ecological Economics, 121, 20-27.

Stodder, J. 2009. Complementary credit networks and macro-economic stability: Switzerland’s Wirtschaftsring. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 72, 79–95.

Ulanowicz, R. E., Goerner, S. J., Lietaer, B., Gomez, R. 2009. Quantifying sustainability: Resilience, efficiency and the return of information theory. Ecological complexity, 6(1), 27-36.