The Circulation of Modern Currencies and the Impoverishment of the Red Sea World, 1882–2010
This chapter argues that the setting in of structural poverty led to the widespread adoption of modern fiat currencies throughout the Red Sea World. From the late nineteenth century, communities throughout the region were being pushed into a cycle of poverty that weakened their resistance to imperial innovations and compelled them to abandon pre-colonial practices. By the end of the First World War, many had been forced into the money economy. Unfortunately, the war had destabilized European currencies and had led colonial officials to take active measures to replace traditional currencies with imperial ones. These new currencies, as well as the national currencies that succeeded them after independence, proved poor stores of values and therefore further trapped these communities in inescapable structural poverty.
Researching and writing this chapter was made possible by grants from the Gerda Henkel Foundation, Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the VolkswagenStiftung, the Andre W. Mellon Foundation and Harvard University’s Weatherhead Initiative on Global History.