Fall 2011 Colloquium Series

Daromir Rudnyckyj

'Homo Economicus or Homo Islamicus? Accounting to Allah and the Market in Contemporary Islam'

Friday, October 21st, 2011, 1:00 p.m.

Location: AQ 6229 , Simon Fraser University (Burnaby campus)

To RSVP for the colloquium, please email ccsmsc@sfu.ca


Recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have raised old questions about why the economies of many Islamic countries have lagged behind those of the West. Virtually unknown in North America is that many Muslims are asking similar questions and have created surprising plans to address this problem.  This lecture describes and analyzes some of these recent efforts to make Islam compatible with capitalism.  In so doing, it asks what limits, if any, exist on the extension of economic rationality that is characteristic of contemporary capitalism?  I argue that a contrast between homo economicus and homo Islamicus is useful insofar as it illuminates different approaches to the extension of calculative reason and it highlights potential limits to this expansion.  The lecture draws on two ethnographic research projects that analyze efforts to reconcile Islam and economic action.  The first is an attempt to inculcate Islamic values among corporate employees under the presumption that such values are conducive to corporate productivity, transparency, and efficiency.  The second is the attempt to create a viable system of Islamic finance that adheres to religious limits on economic action as an explicit alternative to conventional finance. 


Daromir Rudnyckyj is Assistant Professor of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria.  His research focuses on globalization, Islam, development, and the state in Southeast Asia, primarily Indonesia and Malaysia. His book, Spiritual Economies: Islam, Globalization, and the Afterlife of Development (Cornell University Press, 2010), examines contemporary projects of "spiritual reform" that approach economic development as a religious problem in the context of political transformation in contemporary Indonesia.  His current research examines the globalization of Islamic finance in Malaysia and Indonesia and focuses on efforts to make Kuala Lumpur the “New York of the Muslim World”: the central node in a transnational system of Islamic finance.  His articles have been published in Cultural Anthropology, Anthropological Theory, the journal Indonesia, Anthropological Quarterly, and the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Dr. Rudnyckyj’s research has been supported by a Standard Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and other scholarly foundations.  He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.  Further information can be found on Dr. Rudnyckyj’s UVic faculty webpage.

Professor Emilio Gonzalez-Ferrin

"Islam as an Explanation"

University of Seville, Spain

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, 11:30 am

Location: AQ 6229, Simon Fraser University (Burnaby campus)


The history of a religious system cannot be confessional. Disregarding the dogmatic sequence of historical Islam—founder, early expansion, the encounter with “others”—and  "seeing Islam as others saw it" (Hoyland), there is no explanation for Islam: Islam is the explanation, the result of several historical facts not necessarily connected beforehand.


Dr. Emilio Gonzalez-Ferrin is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Thought at the University of Seville and President of the Gordion Foundation.  He is the author of nine major books, including Islamic Ethics and Politics (Seville, 2001),  A General History of Al-Andalus (Cordoba, 2006), and Qur’an: The Inflected Word (Ovido, 2002), which won the Jovellanos International Prize.