Building the Playground for Collective Imagination: Ethnography of a Détournement around Moneywork and Carework
Chapter from the book: Travlou P. & Ciolfi L. 2022. Ethnographies of Collaborative Economies across Europe: Understanding Sharing and Caring.
The chapter presents a case study of a digital complementary currency – Santacoin (SC) – co-designed, implemented and deployed at a 10-day performing arts festival in Italy. SC allowed participants to create a parallel economy within the blurring boundaries of the festival, in a sort of ‘serious game live’: enacted in the wild, with money and bodies at stake. The case study was conducted through a team ethnography that analysed the engagement of festival attenders, artists and staff with the system and the artistic intervention at its root. Indeed, SC was conceived as the core of a performance co-designed by Macao art collective and a group of local caregivers and wellbeing practitioners who then provided their services in the public space. This was thought of as a radical and experimental performative action for leading people to imagine new forms of social production and reproduction within an alternative world, a ‘citadel’ where finance could be thematized and sociopolitical imaginaries practised. It was a localized experiment in community building and collective imagination around issues of inequality and social re/production. The chapter provides an ethnographic account of the collaborative intervention and its main results. In doing so, it reflects on two main dimensions: the intersection of ‘moneywork’ and caring practices as explicitly thematized in the public space, and the role social interaction, relationships and communities play in collective imagination experimentations.