Face Value: The Entwined Histories of Money and Race in America

O'Malley, Michael

ISBN 10: 0226629384 / ISBN 13: 9780226629384
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From colonial history to the present, Americans have passionately, even violently, debated the nature and the character of money. They have painted it and sung songs about it, organized political parties around it, and imprinted it with the name of God—all the while wondering: is money a symbol of the value of human work and creativity, or a symbol of some natural, intrinsic value?

In Face Value, Michael O’Malley provides a deep history and a penetrating analysis of American thinking about money and the ways that this ambivalence unexpectedly intertwines with race. Like race, money is bound up in questions of identity and worth, each a kind of shorthand for the different values of two similar things. O’Malley illuminates how these two socially constructed hierarchies are deeply rooted in American anxieties about authenticity and difference.

In this compelling work of cultural history, O’Malley interprets a stunning array of historical sources to evaluate the comingling of ideas about monetary value and social distinctions. More than just a history, Face Value offers us a new way of thinking about the present culture of coded racism, gold fetishism, and economic uncertainty.

From the Author: We tend to use money without thinking about it. We might think about whether or not we have enough money, but we rarely consider what money actually is. Face Value looks at the ways Americans tried to make sense of money. It pays special attention to the history of arguments about the gold standard. The book starts in the era of the American Revolution and ends in first decade of the 21st century.The history of American money is much more interesting, and more complicated, than we generally know. In the 1850s, for example, there were more than 9000 kinds of bank notes in circulation. In that same era, small and large businesses and even individuals could also print their own money. Throughout US history, a desire for stable, "real" value contrasted with a desire for expansive, negotiable value. Face Value is especially concerned with the way arguments about money tended to mirror arguments about race: the relationship between specie and species. Slaves backed the paper money of the south: Americans literally banked on slavery. During the Civil War, Lincoln's opponents compared greenback paper dollars to negro soldiers, seeing both as inflated and valueless. In the 1890s, enemies of immigration regarded Italians and Slavs as "low wage races" who used silver as money, unlike the Anglo Saxons who favored gold. The book explains how the money system worked in different periods, including the establishment of the federal reserve. It also explores the psychology of money, examining in one case how Franklin Roosevelt established the Fort Knox gold vault primarily as a public relations move, to give the impression of certainty and security. It ends with the election of Barack Obama and the return of calls for the gold standard.It's not meant as a strictly popular book, but it's not jargon-laden, and it offers a both broad survey of the history of money and some new approaches to understanding it. 

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Title: Face Value: The Entwined Histories of Money ...
Publication Date: 2012
Binding: PAP
Book Condition: Used - Very Good

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From colonial history to the present, Americans have passionately, even violently, debated the nature and the character of money. They have painted it and sung songs about it, organized political parties around it, and imprinted it with the name of God - all the while wondering: is money a symbol of the value of human work and creativity, or a symbol of some natural, intrinsic value? In Face Value , Michael O Malley provides a deep history and a penetrating analysis of American thinking about money and the ways that this ambivalence unexpectedly intertwines with race. Like race, money is bound up in questions of identity and worth, each a kind of shorthand for the different values of two similar things. O Malley illuminates how these two socially constructed hierarchies are deeply rooted in American anxieties about authenticity and difference. In this compelling work of cultural history, O Malley interprets a stunning array of historical sources to evaluate the comingling of ideas about monetary value and social distinctions. More than just a history, Face Value offers us a new way of thinking about the present culture of coded racism, gold fetishism, and economic uncertainty. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780226629384

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Face Value: The Entwined Histories of Money and Race in America, Michael O'Malley, From colonial history to the present, Americans have passionately, even violently, debated the nature and the character of money. They have painted it and sung songs about it, organized political parties around it, and imprinted it with the name of God - all the while wondering: is money a symbol of the value of human work and creativity, or a symbol of some natural, intrinsic value? In "Face Value", Michael O'Malley provides a deep history and a penetrating analysis of American thinking about money and the ways that this ambivalence unexpectedly intertwines with race. Like race, money is bound up in questions of identity and worth, each a kind of shorthand for the different values of two similar things. O'Malley illuminates how these two socially constructed hierarchies are deeply rooted in American anxieties about authenticity and difference. In this compelling work of cultural history, O'Malley interprets a stunning array of historical sources to evaluate the comingling of ideas about monetary value and social distinctions. More than just a history, "Face Value" offers us a new way of thinking about the present culture of coded racism, gold fetishism, and economic uncertainty. Bookseller Inventory # B9780226629384

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From colonial history to the present, Americans have passionately, even violently, debated the nature and the character of money. They have painted it and sung songs about it, organized political parties around it, and imprinted it with the name of God - all the while wondering: is money a symbol of the value of human work and creativity, or a symbol of some natural, intrinsic value? In Face Value , Michael O Malley provides a deep history and a penetrating analysis of American thinking about money and the ways that this ambivalence unexpectedly intertwines with race. Like race, money is bound up in questions of identity and worth, each a kind of shorthand for the different values of two similar things. O Malley illuminates how these two socially constructed hierarchies are deeply rooted in American anxieties about authenticity and difference. In this compelling work of cultural history, O Malley interprets a stunning array of historical sources to evaluate the comingling of ideas about monetary value and social distinctions. More than just a history, Face Value offers us a new way of thinking about the present culture of coded racism, gold fetishism, and economic uncertainty. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780226629384

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