Bill Maurer is a cultural anthropologist of law, property and finance, examining how new kinds of monetary practices (from cryptocurrencies and mobile banking to alternative finance) generate unexpected configurations of social, political, and ecological life.
Maurer’s research focuses on the technological infrastructures and social relations of exchange and payment. He has particular expertise in emerging, alternative and experimental forms of money and finance, payment technologies, and their legal implications. He has published on topics ranging from offshore financial services to mobile phone-enabled money transfers, Islamic finance, alternative currencies, and the future of money. He is founding director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and was the founding co-director of the Intel Science and Technology Center in Social Computing.
His research has been supported by several grants from the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and other sources. He is the editor of six collections, as well as the author of Recharting the Caribbean: Land, Law and Citizenship in the British Virgin Islands (1997), Pious Property: Islamic Mortgages in the United States (2006), and Mutual Life, Limited: Islamic Banking, Alternative Currencies, Lateral Reason (2005). The latter received the Victor Turner Prize in 2005. His new book,, is set to appear in Fall, 2015. He has worked as a consultant in industry and the non-profit and philanthropic sector, and has also provided expert testimony on his areas of expertise. For more information on Professor Maurer’s current research projects, click on the Research link above.
He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Cultural Economy and serves as a member of the Editorial Boards of the Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Critique, and PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review. From 2007-09 he was President of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology, and served in 2009-10 as a member of the Program Committee for the Law and Society Association meetings in Chicago, IL. He was Chair of the Department of Anthropology at UC Irvine from 2005-06 until 2010-11, during which time the Department solidified its standing among the very top cultural anthropology programs in the country. He was Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the Social Sciences from 2011-13.
In July 2013, he assumed the role of Dean of the School of Social Sciences at UC Irvine. He maintains an active side interest in the experimental history of the Irvine School of Social Sciences, and has been involved in several curatorial projects related to that history. He has also been involved in curatorial work more directly associated with his research, represented most recently in an ongoing exhibit on the past, present and future of money at the British Museum. In 2015 he was appointed to the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2016 Maurer was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Aeon, How Money Evolved from Shells and Coins to Apps and Bitcoin