Friday, March 6, 2015

Banknotes, aesthetics, and critical thinking

Here's another one on alternative designs to US currency and innovative designs of other currencies. The Norwegian new currency is pretty cool! Note also the commentary on the proposed modernist/humanist designs by MA student Travis Purrington:

"In his MA thesis WORTH: The Aesthetics of Global Interest, Basel School of Design student Travis Purrington designed a proposal for an updated US Dollar note. Inspired by the Swiss Franc’s 20-year design cycle, Travis developed a new iconographic system that better represented advancements and culture within American society.
His design played on the theme of human discovery, connecting achievement, theory and the fundamental properties of life. Bearing in mind that this started as an MA project in 2011, Travis’ designs have been doing the rounds all over the internet in the last six months. With all its popularity, on WiredSlate and Foreign Policy as well as all over Tumblr, Travis recognises that the American Dollar is almost remarkable for its lack of innovation. Unlike the colonial legacy pushed by the current design, Travis’ proposal was for notes that reflect human reason and a humanistic, secular, scientific outlook on the world."

Alternative modes to pay

It seems odd that in modern society, debt can only seem to be paid by way of money.
No labor in exchange for debt taken off, no goods can be transferred at a sort of fixed values, children can't be exchanged (thankfully), or any of the sort. The concept of exchanging items of various values in lieu of paper money to absolve a debt issue seems ridiculous.
Why has this fallen out of fashion? Is there no means by which, say, people of impoverished areas that have no money because of the institutionalized means that rendered them penniless can absolve a debt? It goes further to say the debt at stark interest rates will never be completely repaid.
This is the state by which many countries of the global south live, seemingly & quite possibly forever indebted to the Western hemisphere even though the original debt may have already been repaid several times over. Even the extraction of their resources (though may be paid for, we all know that fair trade is hardly a thing in most cases) cannot pull them out of debt.
By what principle is it fair that countries that have been trodden all over, lived through violent experiences of colonialism / imperialism, and subject to indefinite struggles just to get by still owe money to their oppressors?
Clearly, the way debt is handled in society today can be measured as an injustice that has an atrocious historical narrative to explain its horizons. Unfortunately, it seems the primary method has been & is to enforce capitalist principles by way of militarized force or full punishment of the laws.

I guess what I'm asking / thinking about here is other ways in which "debt" can be remedied. It floors me knowing that while it seems that as students, many of us have large-scale debt to be confronted in the future (large-scale debt that is going to be even larger-scale plus interest), is miniscule compared to the amount of dollar debt our entire nation is in. This is where questions of how this is possible are appropriate. The answer? It is possible because of violations against human rights, against "property rights" of others, and unequal distribution of wealth / resources due to particular institutionalized circumstances.

Now, consider whether individual debt means much over the whole scale world debt. It seems that everyone is in debt to everyone, whether by dollar or by transitional justice mechanisms. Through the this sort of lens, we see that the debt crisis calls for a much more political answer, ignoring the concept of individual debt. (check out a movement dedicated to sharing the world's resources for some hope / insight on alternative methods of fighting the global debt crisis)


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Women on Banknotes

Here's another one on the gender politics of banknotes' images:

A Campaign to Put a Woman on the Twenty-Dollar Bill

 Come to think of it, I didn't see any women on the banknotes we circulated in the class either - except for the socialist Albania banknote with the female farmer!

Hacking Paper Currencies as Political Commentary

Below are links to two articles that discuss the hacking of various paper currencies, namely the Euro and the Canadian Spock dollar.

Hacked Euro Banknotes Depict Bleak Images of Economic Instability

Canadians "Spock" their banknotes

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sigil of Loyalty

Intermeshed spheres of gender and social standing through Fundciaon Paraguaya (business which distributes microcredit loans) or wanbaso (wives of husbands overseas) sister-inlaws can illicit understandings of loyalty to particular groups not well understood within emic perspective. Implicit rules of meiyou renqing (human feeling) that hinge with Maoist egalitarian politics and Paraguan Credit Scoring Service Informcomf (loan group) individual dependent on group payment are both fascinating to consider when living in more independently valued standards of identity.

One interesting facet of Chu’s Cosmologies of Credit was learning how circulating money into physically distant spheres of business that increase chances of becoming morally suspect from within local community. Schuster’s commentary on Paraguayan Microfinance that interposed limited understanding in microcredit debt legitimacy by socially circumstantial contracts outside official creditworthiness also piqued interest. These notes summoned introspection which asked how far social relations -unbeknownst to me- are presently linking forms of legitimated debt in my social networks.

If by Athens, Ohio social culture carry implicit rules of similar ilk to group membership and legitimacy of morosidad (group-dependent debt) against liumang (outsider of social order), then what are my obligations which prove eligibility for services from my communities social loaning contract? Who would constitute an outsider that could disrupt personal or group moral reputation from Northwest region of U.S? What are desirable social debts that are considered mores for men and women? Attempting to connect these queries for any remotely objective framework does little in providing adequate answers from pleasantly subtle and still unsettlingly social reality.