2016-17: Money

Money--what it is, how it works, who has it and who doesn’t--has concerned thinkers and researchers both inside and outside academia, and across a wide range of disciplines. It surrounds us and is a fundamental aspect of modern human life, shaping transactions and interactions and powering networks of ideas, material objects, and myriad cultures and subcultures. Money is also a hot topic in many humanities fields, where analysis has transformed a social scientific approach grounded in economics to research engaged in tracing the histories, values, and influences of money (and economic resources more broadly) on past and present social groups and individuals.

The Institute for Humanities Research invites scholars (both from ASU and visiting scholars) to propose research projects related to money as a theme for the 2016-17 academic year. Because money lends itself to interdisciplinary and cross-cultural analysis, multidisciplinary approaches or groups of collaborators are especially welcome to apply. Fellows’ projects may focus on how money is valued, understood, or how it shapes social relations, structures and institutions, both in the present and throughout human history. Projects may also address the limits of money as a category of inquiry, its role in biopolitics or other areas of critical theory, questions of economic disparity and social justice, or how investigations of money in academia can or cannot be translated into discussions in the public sphere outside of the university.

Possible research topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • The history of money
  • Different forms of money and the role and value of alternate currencies
  • Societies without money (past, present, and future)
  • Money and the shaping of individual, community, or national identity
  • Money’s influence on social hierarchies
  • Money and human behavior and values
  • Money in art and media, or money as an art form
  • Money as a metaphor
  • Politics of money
  • Money and social status
  • The relation of money to human happiness and well-being (individual or collective)
  • Money and inequality
  • The globalization of money
  • How money shapes cultural institutions
  • Coinage and currency as bearers of symbolic value
  • The absence of sufficient money (debt) and debt as a social construct
  • Money as an object of obsession
  • Fluctuations in value (inflation) and ideas of relativism
  • Money and the environment (e.g., attempts to monetize natural resources)
  • Money as a liberating force
  • Money and health
  • Changing ideas of economic growth
  • Ideologies and money
  • The ephemeral quality of money (e.g., ‘bubbles’)