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Money as a Means of Social Resistance: The History of the Maria Theresa Thaler in the Italian Colony of Eritrea (1890-1941)

Bonino Laura, Université Lyon 2

This paper employs the institutionalist theory of money to explore a chapter of the monetary history of the Italian colony of Eritrea. The aim is to provide a complementary perspective in the historical analysis of the link between power and money, which is particularly relevant in the making of new monetary systems in colonial empires. The analysis focuses on a silver coin minted in the Habsburg dominions from the mid-18th century, known as the Maria Theresa thaler, that began circulating in the territories bordering the Red Sea from the early 19th century. This article shows that the attempts of the Italian imperial power to reform Eritrea’s monetary system repeatedly failed because the colonized population always preferred the Austrian thaler over the new Italian coins.

Area: Young Scholar Seminar

Keywords: Money; Maria Theresa thaler; colonial history; monetary sovereignty; monetary theory

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