The Physiology of Money

Containment and Circulation in the Alternative Economy


  • Coco Kanters Utrecht University



Alternative money, Algorithms, Europe, Ethnography of Organisations


This article presents an ethnography of alternative currencies that foregrounds the notion of “circulation”. Building upon a long legacy wherein money is equated with a primary life force—being either water or blood—that is contained within a body, “circulation” became a dominant metaphor for the use of money from the mid-seventeenth century onwards. Imagining money as a liquid that flows and circulates means that remedying economic inequalities and injustice is often reduced to a matter of redistribution. Instead, money is itself an institutional project engineered to distribute resources and authority based on a philosophy of growth and accumulation. Alternative currency initiatives aim to re-design, rather than re-distribute, money. Importantly, they believe the technological fix of a circular software system effectively does away with the inequalities of the capitalist mode of production. What happens when on-going practices towards systemic change converge on money and the economic “body” of a local community is imagined as software?

Author Biography

Coco Kanters, Utrecht University

Coco Kanters is assistant professor and program director at the interdisciplinary undergraduate program Liberal Arts and Sciences at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. She received her PhD in Anthropology at Leiden University. Her publications are both disciplinary grounded—“The Business of Cooperation” in Ethnos—and interdisciplinary conversant—“Failing Forwards” in The Minnesota Review




How to Cite

Kanters, Coco. 2023. “The Physiology of Money: Containment and Circulation in the Alternative Economy”. Technophany, A Journal for Philosophy and Technology 2 (1):1-20.



Techne and Feminism: Articles (edited by Vera Bühlmann and Katarina Kolozova)
Received 2023-03-14
Accepted 2023-06-01
Published 2023-06-09