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PaidTales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff$
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Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035750

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035750.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 02 August 2021



(p.211) 17 Greybacks

Keith Hart

The MIT Press

Based on his first fieldwork in Ghana in the 1960s, the author recounts a story of being offered Confederate US banknotes for conversion, and uses this story to recount how he funded his initial period of anthropological research through money changing and money lending. He made quite a good living this way, so much so that he began to feel guilty about amassing such wealth. So, he spread it around, hiring research assistants. Instead of discharging the debt he felt he owed, however, this only increased it, as he became positioned as a big man who was expected to redistribute wealth to the people. Such grey zones in fieldwork spotlight the ethical quandaries of credit, debt and money in the anthropological encounter as well as in the making of the modern world.

Keywords:   Anthropology, debt, money changing, money lending, Confederate US banknotes (greybacks)

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