By Coin or By Kine? Barter and Pastoral Production in Kazakhstan

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4 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues against scholarship that views barter and monetized transactions as fundamentally similar practices of exchange. Drawing on an ethnography of small-holder mobile pastoralism in south Kazakhstan, I compare instances in which flock owners chose to sell sheep with examples of barter and explain the calculations behind each choice. In barter exchange, sheep replaced money as both medium of exchange and store of value and the material qualities of sheep meant this shift had profound consequences for the kinds of social relations associated with the transaction. In a context of chronic money shortages, barter of sheep freed participants from future obligations, while monetized exchange locked them into the most prolonged and risky of relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-74
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Kazakhstan
  • Mobile pastoralism
  • barter
  • exchange
  • money

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology

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