A Spatial Theory of Precapitalist Money: Evidence from Feudal Europe
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In this study, we seek to interrogate and explain how relations of exchange respond to changes in relations of production. To explain the interaction between the underlying processes of production and their epiphenomenon in exchange, we introduce space as their historical mediator. We argue that the social organization of space functions as a relay – between tectonic shifts in relations of production and the multifarious and secondary landscapes of exchange. We explore this question by, first, examining changes in monetary forms and functions from numismatic evidence during the transition to capitalism in Europe and, second, by imposing a socio-spatial framework to explain those changes. The result is a theory of money before capitalism, emphasizing the deep cleavage between pre- capitalist and capitalist space. We argue that the uneven geographic movement of feudal money, its failure to store value and its dispersion into valueless monies of account reflects the struggle to measure value in the absence of the homogeneous supply and abstract labor markets inaugurated by capitalist space.