Dates: 9-10 March 2012
Place: University of Lausanne (Switzerland)
Organizer: Dr. Sandra Bott
This conference aims at studying the many facets of the international gold market from the late 19th century till today by looking at its organization from the extraction of this precious metal to its consumption. The goal is to trace the legal and illegal networks of gold from the main producing regions to the major consumer countries.
Gold is not a commodity like any other mainly because of its unique role in the international monetary system in the 20th century, but also because of the strong global private demand led by the jewellery and industrial sectors and by investors who consider gold as a stable value especially in times of economic crisis or war.
Some examples of themes that would be particularly interesting to deal with during this conference:
• The central role played by gold in the different international monetary systems from the establishment of the gold standard in 1870 to the demonetization of gold in the early 1970s. Even after the official relationship between gold and the dollar was abandoned in 1971, the yellow metal remains the most popular medium of exchange among policy makers and bankers, and constitutes a large portion of most countries reserves. Monetary and political issues related to this unique position of gold place this precious metal at the heart of international relations and financial flows. It thus constitutes an interesting topic for further investigation.
• National differences regarding the regulation and taxation of the precious metal involve the establishment of informal economies, in which smuggling and tax evasion coexist with legal markets. The analysis of the emergence and organization of these gold markets – free and black – with an emphasis on the major international and regional gold markets of Zurich, London, Paris, Dubai and Hong Kong represent a second major axis of reflection.
• A third aspect could deal with the main actors and their influence on the international gold market. It might include an analysis of the role of the large mining groups, the main producer and consumer states, the large refining companies, the trading houses, the banks, the gold jewellery industry, or the insurance companies that guarantee gold’s transport. The objective is to study the complex networks that are formed around gold trade, which should allow to more accurately track the sinuous path taken by gold ingots or nuggets from the major producer countries, such as South Africa, through the European financial centres of London and Zurich and back to the Arab and Asian markets.
• The cultural and social issues related to the consumption of gold represent a fourth possible approach, which would allow to better understand the fascination with this precious and unalterable metal. What are, for example, the explanatory factors that make Asia the largest consumer of gold today with India owning approximately 10% of world gold reserves. The aim is to reflect on consumption practices, notably those of luxury goods.
This conference aims at gathering contributions from economic, political, social and cultural history, which should allow to analyze varied aspects of the gold market and the role of this raw material in international relations and financial flows from the late 19th century until today.
Proposals should be sent by July 31st, 2011 to the following address: Sandra.Bott@unil.ch
Please send a summary (maximum 1 A4 page) of the proposed contribution, as well as a brief CV. The participants selected will be informed by September 1st, 2011.
A selection of the contributions presented will be published (to appear in 2012).
Dr. Sandra Bott
University of Lausanne
Faculté des Lettres, section d'histoire
Anthropole, 1015 Lausanne
Phone: +41(0)21 692 29 31
Fax: +41(0)21 692 29 35 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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