Recent economic crises have made the centrality of debt, and the instability it creates, increasingly apparent. This realization has led to cries for change—yet there is little popular awareness of possible alternatives. This talk, based on a book of the same title, describes efforts to create a transnational economy free of debt. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Malaysia, the talk illustrates how the state, led by the central bank, seeks to make the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur “the New York of the Muslim world”—the central node of global financial activity conducted in accordance with Islam. The talk will illustrate how Islamic financial experts have undertaken ambitious experiments to create more stable economies and stronger social solidarities by facilitating risk- and profit-sharing, enhanced entrepreneurial skills, and more collaborative economic action. Building on scholarship that reveals the impact of financial devices on human activity, the talk describes how Islamic finance is deployed to fashion subjects who are at once more pious Muslims and more ambitious entrepreneurs. In so doing, the talk shows how experts seek to create a new “geo-economics” centered in Southeast Asia—a global Islamic alternative to the conventional financial network centered on New York, London, and Tokyo. A groundbreaking analysis of a timely subject, Beyond Debt tells the captivating story of efforts to re-center international finance in an emergent Islamic global city and, ultimately, to challenge the very foundations of conventional finance. The speaker, Daromir Rudnyckyj, is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria.
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Cornell Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies
Cornell Department of Anthropology
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
Cornell Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Cornell Department of Economics
Cornell Comparative Muslim Societies Program
Cornell Southeast Asia Program
Cornell Global Learning