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"Economies in Practice" by Daromir Rudnyckyj

Monday, March 5, 2012
12:00 AM
411 West Hall

This presentation proposes the rubric of "economies in practice" to illuminate anthropological contributions to comprehending critical contemporary economic problems. The presentation describes how this concept emerges from ethnographic investigation into two recent attempts to reconcile Islam with capitalism.
This presentation proposes the rubric of "economies in practice" to illuminate anthropological contributions to comprehending critical contemporary economic problems. The presentation describes how this concept emerges from ethnographic investigation into two recent attempts to reconcile Islam with capitalism. First, I document efforts in Malaysia to make the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur, the "New York of the Muslim world." This project seeks to turn the city into the central node in an emerging global financial alternative based on Islamic prescriptions regarding economic action. Second, I describe an initiative to introduce Islamic practice into corporate workplaces in Southeast Asia under the presumption that so doing will enable firms in the region to become more internationally competitive. The presentation compares these two projects and demonstrates that they take contrasting approaches to the problem of economic rationalization. The presentation concludes that an economies in practice approach shifts the problem of economic anthropology away from debates over whether economic rationality is an intrinsic feature of human beings. Instead, such an approach redirects our attention to the techniques through which human activity is subject to the imperative of rationalization and what limits, if any, might be placed on this demand.