Research Group Monetary Sovereignty
The research group Monetary Sovereignty is dedicated to the study of the complex relationship between money and politics. It brings together researchers whose projects address the political economy of money in historical or contemporary contexts, with a special emphasis to theory building and theory development.
We do not treat money as a purely functional catalyst for market trade, but as a historically changing and ever disputed social formation. Money research at the HIS focuses on conflicts that arise over the design of monetary orders. The projects reflect a mutual interest in how and by what means monetary orders are transformed (at the local, national, or international level), and in the process create degrees of freedom, constraints, and limitations for different actors, social groups, countries, or regions. The eponymous “Monetary Sovereignty” serves as a cipher for the analysis of these levels of autonomy and dependency.
The researchers in the group thus approach “monetary policy” not as the technical domain of independent central banks, but as an arena of political struggles, in which lines of social conflict and power asymmetries—class, gender, center/periphery, society/nature, public/private, among others—manifest themselves, are reproduced or are changed.
Many current phenomena offer grounds for a critical interrogation of the relationship(s) between money and politics: the return of inflation and tight mandates that overburden central banks; the digitalization of monetary infrastructures from Bitcoin to Fintech to CBDCs, the geopolitical challenge of dollar dominance and the scenario of fragmented payment systems in a globalized world market; the distortions of private and public money creation and their different degrees of freedom and restrictions; the prospect of the separation of monetary and fiscal policy in the face of climatic, economic and social challenges, the disconnection of monetary capacities from democratic decision-making processes; or, more generally, the future of monetary institutions and practices in times of multiple crises.
The turbulent monetary policy field calls for analysis that is theory- and history-sensitive, interpretation, contextualization, and critique. The phenomena outlined here are by no means meant to prescribe subjects for further research but aim to inspire and provide a perspective: we are interested in the political development of monetary relations, we value sophisticated theorizing, and we attach importance to the public relevance of our research.