An expanding literature on money and identity is built around the assumption that political elites deliberately use currency design to foster national identities. However, the empirical evidence in favor of this assumption has been fragmentary. Drawing on detailed primary sources we demonstrate nationalist intentions of political elites involved in currency design. We also examine how political elites use banknotes as official pronouncements on who is and who is not part of the nation and what the official attitude toward foreigners is. By tracing changes in the inclusive and exclusive messages directed at an intra‑state or international audience we document that there is no connection between ingroup (national) love and outgroup (foreigners, minorities, opposition) hate. The amount of exclusive messages to outgroups culminated in conditions of perceived threat when political leaders tried to mobilize pre‑existing identities to secure or maintain political power. In contrast, the officials deliberately tried to broaden ingroup boundaries in order to build international communities. Finally, we document that in the case of limited support for the new conception of identity, officials tried to depict the old and the new identity as complementary, embedding the new identity in existing discourses.
Marcela Veselkova is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava, and a Senior Research Fellow at Slovak Governance Institute. Her research interests include global economy, education reform and job quality.