Monday, February 10, 2014

Announcing TRANSACTIONS: A Payments Archive

By Taylor C. Nelms and Robert J. Kett

Through 2013, the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion has funded over 125 researchers in 38 countries. Every year they come together at the University of California, Irvine to share their research questions and conclusions. They also bring with them more tangible lessons: an incredibly diverse assortment of artifacts that also help to tell the still-unfolding story of mobile money.

We did not anticipate becoming a museum. But one of the important side-effects of our large and still-growing research network has been the accumulation of stuff: state and local currencies in multiple denominations, promotional material from mobile money deployments, and artifacts of everyday monetary practice, from cell phone sleeves to piggy banks. We have been fortunate to receive many of these as gifts from our researchers, and early on we realized the treasures that had begun to gather in our offices. We began a partnership with the British Museum to receive many of these artifacts for its own collection of modern money paraphernalia, and as we have documented before, many of these objects can now be seen in the Citi Modern Money Gallery.

In 2013, inspired by this incipient collection, IMTFI research assistants formed a new partnership with the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing (also at UC Irvine), as well as a range of other institutions (from the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge to the Khipu Database Project at Harvard University), to launch a new website and online collaborative collection. Called TRANSACTIONS: A Payments Archive, this collection brings together artifacts from partner collections and written commentaries from independent contributors to spark a conversation about the material cultures and histories of payment and debt.

You can read more about the TRANSACTIONS archive in Anthropology News:
How might attention to such objects, their contexts and uses illuminate the longue durĂ©e history of forms of payment and transactional record-keeping and reframe understandings of the materiality of debt and money? And how might we reassemble a material history of money, debt, payments, and transactional records across their often-disconnected institutional contexts? […] Transactions is our attempt to constitute a collaborative framework to address these questions.
TRANSACTIONS needs your help!

We invite public participation in this collaborative endeavor in two ways:

1) Submit images of transactions artifacts of your own (or those you have come across in research) to our Collaborative Archive, along with a short explanation detailing their who, what, when, and where. Visit our site and click the “Contribute” button to learn more.

2) We welcome commentaries of 500-1500 words that offer more in-depth reflections on transactions artifacts, either those we have selected from our partner collections or those you have found in your own research. We have already hosting commentaries and other reflections from scholars such as Jane Guyer, Joe Deville, Alexandre Roig and Waldemar Cubilla, Lana Swartz, and Carlyn James.

Feel free to contact us at

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