Competing Imaginaries: Crypto-Utopianism and the Material Forces of Bitcoin Mining

Anthropology Today (39)4: 4-8.
Drawing on Marx’s theory of history, this article argues that the competition and capital accumulation inherent in the production of Bitcoin (i.e. ‘mining’) are at odds with the narrative discourses that position Bitcoin as a revolutionary technology capable of subverting traditional power structures. Through an analysis of the evolution of Bitcoin mining, the article demonstrates how the material conditions of its production have shifted over time, leading to the concentration of mining power among a few large corporate entities and a concomitant erosion of the decentralized ethos that underpinned the early Bitcoin community. The article also argues that this shift is not simply a result of the ‘natural’ evolution of the technology, but…

World monies or money-worlds: A new perspective on cryptocurrencies and their moneyness

Finance and Society, 7(2): 130-39.


This essay makes the case that current debates about the moneyness’ of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are occurring at the incorrect scale. Rather than being some form of transnational digital money to be used alongside or compete with national fiat currencies, I argue that, instead, each cryptocurrency represents its own self-contained ‘money-world’. A cryptocurrency is the uniquely specified unit of account and medium of exchange within the socio-technical bounds of its own blockchain. This perspective can open new lines of intellectual dialogue and inform better policy choices for regulating cryptocurrencies.