The cultural politics of metallic money before the South African gold standard crisis 1920-1933

Show simple item record Breckenridge, Keith 2010-08-16T08:58:37Z 2010-08-16T08:58:37Z 1992-10-19
dc.description African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 19 October, 1992 en_US
dc.description.abstract The gold standard crisis defined the end of an epoch. From at least the end of the first world war to the Christmas of 1932, the South African and Imperial states and mining capital were involved in a struggle over the form of the South African and international money supplies. Whilst in appearance an abstract and mysterious debate, the contest over the form of the money supply laid the foundations for a system of value that penetrated into the daily lives and politics of many southern Africans. Chief amongst these, were the hundreds of thousands of migrant mineworkers who, before 1933, received their wages in gold. This paper explores what is universally understood as being the primary reason for migrant labour—the need for money. The ideas and practices associated with the control and transmission of metallic money were at the core of the experience of migrant labour before the crisis, and, it is argued, formed a major part of the self-definition of migrant gold miners during the 1920s. Following from this, the paper posits a re-interpretation of the gold standard crisis. The turning point that coincided with the new year of 1933 was not merely an economic change but constituted a major transformation of the form, value, velocity and politics of money throughout Southern Africa. Coincidently, the crisis was an economic and cultural transition for the mining industry itself, and marked a dramatic re-definition of the terms of economic conflict between workers and managers. Finally, this paper presents evidence for a new periodisation of capitalist development in Southern Africa that meshes together the cultural and economic dimensions of historial processes in a manner that foregrounds the experience of the African working class. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries African Studies Institute;ISS 51
dc.subject Gold standard. History. 20th century en_US
dc.subject Money. South Africa en_US
dc.title The cultural politics of metallic money before the South African gold standard crisis 1920-1933 en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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