A Counterhistory of Chinese Money

Talk by Tamara Chin, Associate Professor of Literature, Yale-NUS, beginning 2014


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Tuesday, December 03, 2013
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

We usually think of money in terms of its economic functions, for example as a medium of exchange or a unit of account.  This talk offers an alternative history of money during the opening of the Han dynasty Silk Road, when China first expanded its monetized markets.  It looks at a diverse set of social and symbolic practices (e.g., burying money for the afterlife, stories about debt) through which people resisted or embraced the logic of the new market.  It asks: how did people re-imagine non-quantitative uses and meanings for money?  And what place can or should these practices have in the economic history of China and the world?

Tamara Chin works on Chinese antiquity and the modern reception of antiquity.  She has published on aspects of early Chinese literary culture and the Silk Road, and her book, Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination, will be published in the Spring/Summer 2014 with Harvard University Press.  Chin taught in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago and will join Yale-NUS in 2014 as an Associate Professor of Literature in 2014.

Published: Wednesday, December 04, 2013