Monetary Culture Shock

In her article “Imaginary Currencies: when money isn’t always what it seems” Erin Taylor explores a peculiar case in the country of Haiti where the national currency is converted to an imaginary one by the locals. The national currency of Haiti is the Gourde however most exchanges are done in the Haitian Dollar which is a fictitious currency. The Haitian dollar is based off of the time when five Gourdes was a US dollar and people stuck with that conversion even though it no longer holds true.

This article really reminded of the section of the course where we discussed cultural relativism and also the concept of culture shock. The concept of bartering and exchanging goods with a currency that is not real is definitely a foreign concept to many people. I can only imagine the culture shock of going to Haiti and being told something is three Haitian dollars and not having any clue what that meant. However for the people of Haiti it is now just second nature. It’s all about understanding things from the perspective of the people who live in the culture you are studying. That concept is a huge part of what cultural anthropology teaches. It is important to attempt to understand without placing judgment because everybody has their own biases but you will never understand somebody who is different than you if you look from just your perspective.