June 19, 2008
This summer’s fieldwork has taken me to France and the Czech Republic. In Carsac-Aillac, in France’s Dordogne region, where I am writing this, I am working with a small group of people re-analyzing the lithics from Combe Grenal housed at the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, an important Middle Paleolithic cave site dug by François Bordes, in anticipation of possible future excavations at the site by Harold Dibble, Shannon McPherron, and Dennis Sandgathe, the principal investigators of the Middle Paleolithic cave site of Roc de Marsal. Roc de Marsal is currently being excavated by Dibble, McPherron, and Sandgathe, and I am also assisting in analyzing the new lithic materials that have come from the site. This work is providing me with a great opportunity to work with, and be trained by, leaders in the field of paleoanthropology, and especially lithics.
In the Czech Republic, I will be working for our own Gil Tostevin and Petr Škrdla of the Institute of Archaeology in Brno, Czech Republic. We will be working on a new Paleolithic open air site in Tvarožná, a small town just east of Brno. I look forward to getting additional experience in Paleolithic excavation, and also meeting people and potentially gaining access to collections which may be useful to my dissertation research, which comprises analyzing the exterior side of lithic artifacts using the new 3D scanning and modeling technology available in our department’s labs.
June 23, 2008
While money is essential to modern life, in relatively wealthy and stable national contexts whether one pays in deutschmarks, euros, or dollars often seems of little consequence in the larger scheme of global financial capital or the day-to-day transactions of daily life. Yet as the recent financial crises in the US have brought into renewed focus, currency is the lynchpin in struggles over economic agency and the boundaries of the market. In no place is this clearer than Germany, a country that has experienced the range of textbook-defined financial crises and the mixed blessings of German and European economic
integration. But in Germany it is also true that, “one does not talk about money." Thus, in my fieldwork in Leipzig and Frankfurt a.M. Germany, I have often found myself in the role of a detective or archaeologist, trying to unearth the taken-for-granted movements of currency as it travels in economic analyses and reports, policy decisions, through media, local events and projects, and in the personal biographies of ordinary citizens.
Whether the terms “money" and “currency" are used interchangeably, or their distinctions are reinforced, both strategies hide as much as they reveal. Money is often at the forefront of debates in contemporary German politics while the technicalities of currency: its value, backing, and functions shift
and turn silently in the background. At other important moments, currency takes center stage in debates about the euro and rising prices, or in the decision to re-value the East German economy in the West German deutschmark, a “mere technicality" which has had mixed consequences in the economic realties of post-unification Germany. My dissertation, “Who (What) is behind the economy? Locating Agency in Debates about the Euro in Germany," examines these struggles over who is (or should be) responsible for the economy and who will (or should) benefit from the single market. Discourses
about socialism and capitalism are mobilized in an ongoing process of redefining the moral limits of the market in Germany and Europe. These are also dialogues about the “real" value of money and the long-term consequences of economic integration. By asking my respondents to share their experiences with the euro or the different value(s) ascribed to the West German and East German Mark (and economies), I strike a nerve that lies uneasily between purely technical discussions about a unit of economic exchange and the personal economic successes, failures, and possibilities tied to money and economic transformation. Money talks but it is also silent: my project is about what happens “in between," and why this matters to experts and the public.