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The Political Narratives of Cryptocurrency Evangelists

Full Title

Ambivalent Revolutionaries: the Political Narratives of Cryptocurrency Evangelists

Project description

Cryptocurrencies have exploded onto global financial markets, with the value of a single bitcoin growing from around 800 USD in 2016 to 67,000 USD in 2021. Cryptocurrencies dangle the possibility of entirely decentralized finance, with control stemming from mining power, voluntary node operators, and protocol design rather than central bank regulation or large corporations. Some states have banned cryptocurrencies (China), while others, especially in conflict or at the margins of the global economy (El Salvador, Afghanistan, Yemen), have embraced them. 

While most cryptocurrency analyses focus on their technological mechanics and speculative potential, the political narratives underpinning cryptocurrencies are equally important. Cryptocurrency proponents justify their enthusiasm through individual benefits (‘life-changing wealth’) but also societal and political change. Domestically, cryptocurrencies ostensibly counter “big-state” overreach and establishment power; internationally, they claim to democratize economic decision-making away from global metropoles. 

This project aims to understand the political narratives of cryptocurrency evangelists and trace the circulation of these narratives beyond the cryptocurrency evangelist community. It brings together a community of interested experts and citizens, especially from marginalised communities (women in crypto, minority and Global South perspectives), on the political, economic, and social implications of cryptocurrencies for global governance. This project provides a platform to learn about this emergent force in global governance, helping policymakers address issues of cryptocurrencies beyond their hype, and helping individuals make more informed decisions about how to engage with these technologies.

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