Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-rn2sj Total loading time: 0.975 Render date: 2022-08-14T19:56:47.981Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

55 - Money

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 July 2019

Alasdair Pettinger
Affiliation:
independent scholar based in Glasgow, Scotland.
Get access

Summary

The word money is as old as English itself. (The etymology of the word is debated, and it came either from Old French or via Old French from the classical Latin term for a ‘mint’ – monēta was the name of a goddess whose temple in Rome was a place where coins were manufactured.) The Oxford English Dictionary – whose earliest citations date from the fourteenth century – defines it as follows: ‘Any generally accepted medium of exchange which enables a society to trade goods without the need for barter; any objects or tokens regarded as a store of value and used as a medium of exchange.’ However, this may require some refinement, for anthropologists have begun to question the ‘tendency to postulate a fundamental division between nonmonetary and monetary economies (or even societies)’, especially when they are treated as defining features of ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ societies respectively (Parry and Bloch 1989, 7).

In practice, different forms of exchange (monetary transactions, barter, the exchange of gifts) coexist and overlap in all societies (Thomas 1991, 7–29). This qualification becomes especially important when studying the relations formed between early modern European travellers and the people they encountered in other parts of the world. For instance, the first reports of Columbus's arrival in the Caribbean suggest an evident asymmetrical exchange of gold for ‘trifles’, but whose significance (for both parties) is unclear, as notions of friendship and economic calculation are complicated by other factors, including understandings of the acquisition of territory and the ‘gift’ of Christianity (Murray 2000, 3–6).

In their accounts of late eighteenth-century French landings in Tahiti and Easter Island respectively, Bougainville and Laperouse attribute to the Pacific islanders both a childlike innocence that leads them to accept useless ‘pacotillage’ in exchange for objects of value, and a more calculating worldliness that dictates a preference for highquality goods, in both cases ignoring the possibility that they might have valued them in terms other than those recognized by Europeans (Greene 2002). Contemporaneous overtures to authorities in China and Japan by Lord George Macartney and John Saris began with the offering of gifts, but while the recipients interpreted these as a recognition of their higher authority, the English traders were disappointed that they were not reciprocated by the granting of commercial privileges (Klekar 2006).

Type
Chapter
Information
Keywords for Travel Writing Studies
A Critical Glossary
, pp. 160 - 162
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2019

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×