The Veblen Institute supports and participates in the International Conference about Complementary Currencies
Local trading schemes based on the implementation of a specific currency have developed around the world since the 1980s. We can only make uncertain estimates as to their scope and we are not fully aware of their diversity, but it seems that 4000 to 5000 schemes of this type exist today in over 50 countries. They relate to an increasing number of models: LETS, time banks, Argentinean-like trueque systems, Ithaca-like Hour currencies, German-like regio systems, Brasilian-like community banks and currencies , multiple-project currencies like the SOL currency in France, ‘Transition Towns’local currencies, RES (Belgium) or Wir (Switzerland) systems, etc. There is no historical equivalent of such a growing tide of currency schemes since the beginnings of industrialisation at the turn of the 19th century. These schemes are described as ‘complementary currencies’, ‘community currencies’, ‘local currencies’, ‘open money’, etc. Those terms do neither refer exactly to the same objectives nor to the same realities. To date, these schemes have generally not been settled either by pure political objectives or by the profit rationale inherent to for-profit organizations.
This tide has boosted interest amongst certain humanities and social sciences researchers since the 1990s, but an assessment of what has been done to date provides a mixed picture. We should most assuredly acknowledge the emergence of this new field of research (new because of its extent and nature), but it must be regretted the insubstantial influence that these works have generally had within humanities and social sciences, and the lack of academic visibility which continues to leave the field on the periphery of research.
The aim of this conference is not only to demonstrate why scholars’ works on these currencies are of scientific value, which reflects the practical value of the experiences themselves, but to affirm that they should obtain a significant role with regard to various disciplines that are concerned with this type of trading schemes, such as economics, geography, sociology, political science, anthropology, history, law, etc.
One purely acacemic problem certainly arises from the fact that they relate to fields of research at the crossroads of a number of disciplines: development studies, local development, market exchange, Third sector or social economy, sustainable
development, monetary uses, monetary spaces, sovereignty, new spaces of transaction and sociability, social movements claiming for economic transformations, social cohesion, community dynamics, women’s economic initiatives, etc.
As a consequence, this conference will be multidisciplinary; papers from different disciplines are welcome, as well as papers which are interdisciplinary.