Working from the proposition that the body of the migrant presents a new form of global currency, this article explores the nexus of finance and migration. The figure of a global currency registers tensions between circulation and territory. By examining these tensions and exploring their resonances with the dynamics of migratory movements, I ask how the practices of exclusion and differential inclusion that characterize border and migration regimes intersect modes of capitalist valorization and extraction. The article begins by considering the prevalence of “deals” by which states exchange human bodies in kind or accept payments for receiving or detaining people on the move. It closes by critically analyzing the coincidence of migration and currency “crises” in Europe, paying particular attention to the position of Greece in 2015. Crucial to the argument is an investigation of how currency derives its value relationally, that is, in relation to other currencies, and how the financial manipulation of such value through computer trading techniques contributes to the variable geographies of contemporary capitalism. Overall, the article presents currency as a frame for rethinking migration within and beyond an approach that emphasizes the lived experience, subjectivity, and labor of the migrant.
1 April 2018