Introduction: The Indian Ocean World Currency System

  • Steven Serels
Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)


The introductory chapter lays out the features of the traditional Indian Ocean World currency system, which was historically structured by the shared moral economy of market actors throughout this macro-region. This moral economy delimitated the social obligations inherent in commercial relations, including those between sovereigns and their subjects. Communities throughout this macro-region generally accepted that sovereign states had the exclusive right to mint coins, but not the right to determine their circulation. This latter right was seen as the inalienable prerogative of market actors until the late nineteenth century. However, political and economic innovations introduced under European imperial rule undermined this moral economy and paved the way for states to seize control over the currency system by establishing national currencies in the twentieth century.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Serels
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Martin Luther Universität Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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