Cadbury Conference 2015: Money Judgments

 Detail of an artefact in the Danford Collection

21-22 May 2015

The annual Cadbury Conference hosted by the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham.

How do people in Africa conceptualise, appraise, and assess money and monetary transactions? The workshop offers an interdisciplinary space to explore how people accumulate and think about wealth; describe and measure exchange; attribute moral value to these in different settings and institutions; and how such categorization shapes decisions and behaviour. We will investigate the whole spectrum of ways in which people make judgments in the course of their economic engagements, in contexts ranging from formal legal institutions to intimate domestic, neighbourhood, and community relationships.

Leading this year’s workshop will be our Leverhulme Visiting Professor, Jane Guyer, whose seminal research on money and value in Africa is the inspiration for our theme. In addition to participating in the general workshop programme, Professor Guyer will give a series of methodologically focused lectures, run a series of seminars on her latest theoretical work, and hold individual and small-group research meetings with research students, early-career scholars, and staff.

Among the questions we seek to explore are:

  • How do people save money (if they do), and in what form? How do they respond to the requests of others for help, or, alternatively, protect their wealth?
  • How are monetary transactions defined and depicted in specific cultures, settings or situations? By means of what concepts and metaphors? For example, in what idioms do people distiguish between possessions that can be sold, and those that cannot?
  • How are the meanings of money and monetary transactions controlled, monitored, imposed or challenged – in formal institutional economic discourses, or in other registers such as journalism, fiction, musical lyrics, proverbs, and slogans?How, for example, do ordinary people, the press, and rumours comment about wealth and express their judgments of it – how wealthy people do or do not deserve their possessions?
  • What kinds of arguments go on about resources and exchange? How are such arguments framed? In what arenas or social settings? Under what circumstances, for example, is access to basic necessities framed as a matter of economic fact, and when is it understood as a matter of politics?
  • How do people navigate ambiguities and inconsistencies in definitions of value, and judge between different frameworks? How, for example, is the priority of paying the bank on time judged in relation to the demands of family in urgent medical situations?
  • Which people manage more than one currency – for example their own national currency and the international currencies? And how do they do it?

Cadbury Fellowship Scheme

The Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham invites applications for the 2015 Cadbury Fellowship Scheme, which will focus on research on money.  

Three visiting fellows from Africa will be appointed to participate in a ten-week schedule of seminars,  discussion groups, and other activities. One aim of the scheme is to assist new scholars to develop a research paper and bring it to publication, and the programme will culminate in an interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Birmingham on 21-22 May 2015 at which the visiting fellows will present their papers alongside an international cast of both established and younger participants.


Further information

Enquiries and applications are welcome. If you wish to present a paper, send an abstract of up to 250 words to Elisa Tuijnder ( by Friday 13 February 2015.  An additional, more detailed call for papers will be circulated in due course. Participants will normally be expected to seek means from their own institutions to attend.