Chris Desan on Making Money (Recall This Buck)


Our Recall this Buck series, back in 2020 and 2021, explored the history of money, ranging from the earliest forms of labor IOUs to the modern world of bitcoin and electronically distributed value. We began by focusing on the rise of capitalism, the Bank of England, and how an explosion of liquidity changed everything.

We were lucky to do so, just before the Pandemic struck, with Christine Desan of Harvard Law School, who recently published Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism (Oxford University Press, 2014). She is also managing editor of, a website that explores money as a critical site of governance. Desan’s research explores money as a legal and political project. Her approach opens economic orthodoxy to question by widening the focus on money as an instrument, to examine the institutions and agreements through which resources are mobilized and tracked, by means of money. In doing so, she shows that particular forms of money, and the markets within which they circulate, are neither natural or inevitable.

Read the episode here.

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Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz

Free-ranging discussion of books from the past that cast a sideways light on today's world. Recall This Book is hosted by Elizabeth Ferry, Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University and John Plotz, Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative.

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