Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa

Paperback | March 1, 2004

byJane I. Guyer

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In America, almost all the money in circulation passes through financial institutions every day. But in Nigeria's "cash and carry" system, 90 percent of the currency never comes back to a bank after it's issued. What happens when two such radically different economies meet and mingle, as they have for centuries in Atlantic Africa?

The answer is a rich diversity of economic practices responsive to both local and global circumstances. In Marginal Gains, Jane I. Guyer explores and explains these often bewildering practices, including trade with coastal capitalism and across indigenous currency zones, and within the modern popular economy. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Guyer demonstrates that the region shares a coherent, if loosely knit, commercial culture. She shows how that culture actually works in daily practice, addressing both its differing scales of value and the many settings in which it operates, from crisis conditions to ordinary household budgets. The result is a landmark study that reveals not just how popular economic systems work in Africa, but possibly elsewhere in the Third World.

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In America, almost all the money in circulation passes through financial institutions every day. But in Nigeria's "cash and carry" system, 90 percent of the currency never comes back to a bank after it's issued. What happens when two such radically different economies meet and mingle, as they have for centuries in Atlantic Africa?The a...

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In America, almost all the money in circulation passes through financial institutions every day. But in Nigeria's "cash and carry" system, 90 percent of the currency never comes back to a bank after it's issued. What happens when two such radically different economies meet and mingle, as they have for centuries in Atlantic Africa?The a...

Jane I. Guyer is a professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author, most recently, of An African Niche Economy: Farming to Feed Ibadan and Money Matters: Instability, Values, and Social Payments in the Modern History of West African Communities.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.5 inPublished:March 1, 2004Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226311163

ISBN - 13:9780226311166

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
PART I INTRODUCTORY
1 Introduction: Diversity, Bewilderment, and the Multiplicity of African Money
2 Conversations: Asymmetrical Transactions
PART II SCALES AND TROPES
3 Calculation: Number and Asymmetry
4 Rank: People and Money
5 Quality: Commodities and Price
PART III PERFORMANCES AND REPERTOIRES
6 Volatility: A Performance in Modern Nigeria
7 Institutions: Repertoires of Financial Option
8 Balances: Household Budgets in a Ghanaian Study
PART VI CONCLUSIONS AND DIRECTIONS
9 Formalities: Fixing Debt and Delay
10 Bewilderment Revised
Appendix
References
Index