Catching the pulse: Money and circulation in a Sri Lankan marketplace

Luke Heslop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article traces the movement, management, and generation of money in a Sri Lankan wholesale vegetable market, pulling into focus certain local economic and moral logics. What traders do with cash is revealing. I argue that how traders use money: the way it is handled, risked, spent, and lent,exhibits skill, implies hierarchy, and cultivates social connections. Exploring idioms of economic activity such as ‘catching the pulse’ and ‘rolling the money’, the article examines relations between different kinds of trader. Moving money through businesses permits participation in the complex communication network of the market. This is central to existing in the social world of the trader.I argue that following money notes – rather than commodities – as they travel around the marketplace and between the hands of transactors renders ethnographically observable the formations of personhood and long-term relations that take place in the market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-551
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


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