• Transitions in the Monetary History of Eritrea. Colonial Policies, Military Labour, and the Maria Theresa Thaler (1885-1921)
  • De Cola, Alessandro <1990>


  • SPS/13 Storia e istituzioni dell'Africa


  • This thesis focuses on the building of a colonial monetary system in Eritrea under the rule of Italian colonialism, as well as its impact on local societies and the reasons for the failure of Italian monetary policies. In answering the principal research questions, the “monetary angle” will allow an investigation into other aspects of Italian colonialism in Eritrea, such as the construction of a “colonial knowledge”, the introduction of military wage labour, and the establishment of new financial institutions. Framed against the background of the literature on African monetary history, the thesis is thematically organised into three chapters, each having its own periodisation. The first chapter deals with the construction of a “colonial knowledge” regarding the Eritrean monetary system, and the reasons behind the failure of the Italian attempts to introduce a colonial currency. The second chapter analyses the introduction of military wage labour and the strategies employed by the indigenous veterans to store their wealth. The third chapter discusses the role of banking in Eritrea in supporting Italian attempts to control the monetary system during the First World War currency crisis. At the same time, this chapter sheds light on the manner in which different local actors were affected by these policies, suffered their consequences, or took advantage of the situation. Finally, the third chapter also clarifies the positioning of Eritrea in the regional trade network and the important role of the Maria Theresa thaler in its multiple currency system. The central argument of the study is that the introduction of colonial currencies and the employment of monetary policies did not produce a swift change in local trade networks and economic practices. In fact, the changes were non-linear and were configured as a slow transition that entailed the introduction of different economic and financial devices.


  • 2021-06-07


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



De Cola, Alessandro (2021) Transitions in the Monetary History of Eritrea. Colonial Policies, Military Labour, and the Maria Theresa Thaler (1885-1921), [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Storie, culture e politiche del globale , 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/9652.