Data Money book cover
Introduced and moderated by Bill Maurer, Anthropology, UCI and Director, IMTFI

About the talk:
The cryptocurrency world has transformed in a few short years from a niche subculture to a parallel economic universe, reaching a market capitalization of more than $2.5 trillion in 2021 before plummeting in 2022. For their advocates, cryptocurrencies represent a revolution of world-historical significance. To critics, crypto is more of a speculative tool than a true currency. How do tens of thousands of financial actors make these new monies? What forces give cryptocurrencies their value—or take it away? And what does crypto’s spectacular ascent reveal about the nature of money?

In this groundbreaking ethnographic analysis of crypto economies and their global markets and communities, Koray Caliskan offers an inside view of how cryptocurrencies are made and traded. He argues that cryptocurrency should be understood as “data money,” a historically novel money type, created as the right to send data privately over an accounting infrastructure called blockchain. Drawing on two years of fieldwork among global cryptocurrency communities and in crypto markets, Caliskan makes visible the production principles of cryptocurrencies and explores how crypto exchanges work from within. He explains why and how we have been misunderstanding, underregulating, and improperly taxing crypto exchanges and actors. He also proposes a radically new way to make sense of new finance and its actors. An invaluable book for all readers seeking to understand cryptocurrency, Data Money sheds new light on a profound transformation of finance and its possible future trajectories.

About the speaker:
Koray Caliskan is an associate professor of strategic design and management at Parsons and associate editor of the Journal of Cultural Economy. His last research project on cryptocurrencies and blockchains was selected to be a winner of the Scientific Breakthrough of the Year Award of 2021 in Social Sciences by the Falling Walls Foundation, Berlin. His book, based on this research, Data Money: Inside Cryptocurrencies and their Communities, Blockchains and Markets ( was published from Columbia University Press in August 2023. Currently, on an ESRC collaborative grant, he is carrying out research on the economic sociology of digital advertisements.

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