Myriam Amri

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Harvard U.

Grant number

Gr. 10207

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Amri, Myriam (Harvard U.) " “To Turn the Currency Around”: Money, Nation-State & Political Belonging in Tunisia"

MYRIAM AMRI, then a graduate student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in October 2021 to aid research on ”To Turn the Currency Around’: Money, Nation-State & Political Belonging in Tunisia,” supervised by Dr. Malavika Reddy. Since the revolution of 2011, Tunisia’s national currency has been deemed in crisis. From devaluations to disappearing banknotes, the national currency has come to mirror the entangled economic and political crises that make Tunisia’s recent history. The grantee centers discourses and practices around the form money takes, examining the making of an official currency — its institutions and policies — in relation to its subversions — the informal, illicit, and illegal — lumping as such the money of central bankers and that of traffickers. This project consisted of twelve months of fieldwork, at the Central Bank of Tunisia as well as in the Northwest of Tunisia, following the national currency from the institution that makes it to its circulation out of the nation-state. This dissertation foregrounds the themes of circulation, following the paths of banknotes moving from Central Bank to borders, and that of materiality, as what is being fought for is not money, the abstract signifier but its material iteration, currency, a potentially unstable if not illegitimate social object. This project illuminates the articulation of informal and formal, licit and illicit that form the everyday life of money. Taking the slippage between money and currency, I locate how struggles to stabilize a currency, its form, value, and circulation, become central to the definition of what constitutes a national economy.