How does one gain or lose value? What is value made of? Who decides value? In “Reimagined Currencies,” we invited writers to reflect on these questions and their impacts on our personal and political desires.

In The Pipeline, Venezia Castro writes about the day the steel “monster with hundreds of necks” that runs beneath the rural town of Tlahuelilpan, breaks. To the town’s impoverished residents, the eruption of flammable liquid from the ground on the hottest day in their memory is not a disaster, but the lighting of a desperate hope for abundance.

We encounter a similar tension between hope and desperation in Jori Lewis’ My Guardian Spirit, which explores the way marriage continues to structure a woman’s value in many communities. With lucidity, humor, and compassion, our Senior Editor explores the roles of mystical spirits and spiritual practitioners in the search for “the husband,” revealing it, among other things, to be indivisible from the search for acceptance and full personhood.

Meanwhile, in Breaking, Dan Torday invites us to reflect on the artist’s commoditization in the post-Reagan world through the story of a musician who’s just missed his chance to play the gig of his dreams. “The exposure would [have been] priceless,” writes Torday. “Fame was a train that arrived on no timetable, its stop a station you had to hang around for weeks, months, years— waiting.”

Finally, in The Rise (and Fall) of Security as Currency, Khury Petersen-Smith exposes “security” as the domestication and insinuation of the War on Terror, and shows how “[the] ‘racial reckoning’ that has been unfolding over the past three years has posed the single greatest challenge” to the logic of fear and violence that have undergirded every facet of American political life since 9/11.

It’s our hope to forge new connections and provoke necessary conversations with every issue. Let us know what you think. We are excited to hear from you!

Cynthia Dewi Oka, Editor-in-Chief

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