The Inaugural Year: Christine Desan Lecture—As Mainstream as the Mail: Re-Imagining Money, From Theory to (Postal) Practice

Titsworth Marjorie Leff Miller ’53 Lecture Hall

Open to the public

/ Tuesday


The Bitcoin boom attests to the deep public capacity to re-imagine money. Money runs through our lives in countless ways, a currency of value that denominates the work we perform and the property we own, the savings we put aside for those we love and the contributions we make towards the public sphere. If we can reconceive money, we can revise an elemental medium that relates people to each other, to those in authority, and to those across borders. The trick is not, however, inventing a crypto-currency, isolated from governance and immune from human interpretation. It is to understand and remake money as it exists at the core of political and economic life.

This talk will sketch money as a constitutional medium and consider how approaching it that way opens up new possibilities for political economic reform. According to the trail it leaves in past and present societies, making money is a project that political communities undertake as they struggle to organize life in a material world. Money has a design, one based on configuring how real value will be packaged and passed around. That design has been changed many times—we will consider the grand transformation that introduced capitalism’s monetary and financial architecture. In fact, money can be restructured today—we will consider one reform proposal, postal banking, that looks mundane but reconceptualizes in a potentially profound way how money works and how it could (re)distribute access to credit.

This event is part of the Inaugural Year series, exploring the theme Democracy and Education. What does Democracy and Education mean to you? Share your thoughts—written or video—with us on social media using the hashtag #SLCDemocracyEducation. See what others are saying at

Sponsored by the Donald C. Samuel Fund for Economics and Politics