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Research | Daromir Rudnyckyj
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Research

My research focuses on globalization, money, religion, development, modernity, and the state in Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe. Supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, Social Science Research Council (SSRC) the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and Fulbright-Hays among other funding agencies, my work straddles the boundaries of political economy and the anthropology of religion.

The central problem I have pursued in my research is a critical examination of the implications of making economic calculation a universal norm and moral standard for the organization and government of human life. I am pursuing this line of inquiry in the research projects detailed below.

A short video about my research is available here.

Abstracts of some of my publications can be found at http://uvic.academia.edu/DaromirRudnyckyj/Papers

Research projects

The Techno-politics of Monetary Reform

This research project analyzes the politics of money creation by examining  struggles over where the power to produce money should lie and technical interventions to remake monetary forms. While money is often considered a transparent “medium of exchange,” initiatives dedicated toward reforming the power to create money call this innocuous definition into question. Focusing on debates over where the power to create money should lie, this project has three main goals: 1) to document the activities of social groups seeking to reform the power to create money; 2) to show how these movements reveal what is taken for granted in social scientific research on money; and 3) to better understand the distinct visions of collectivity that are achieved through the production and circulation of money.

Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance

Recent financial crises around the globe have precipitated renewed enthusiasm across the Muslim world for an Islamic alternative to conventional finance. This project is an ethnographic investigation of ambitious plans in contemporary Malaysia to develop the infrastructure necessary to create a transnationally valid Islamic financial system. The project documents the debates among government planners, Islamic scholars, bankers, and others as the state seeks to make the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, the “New York of the Muslim world”: the central node in a transnational Islamic financial network. The project asks whether Islamic finance offers an alternative economic rationality to conventional capitalism or whether it simply represents a translation of homo economicus into Islamic idioms. This ethnographic study of the everyday practices of creating a transnational Islamic financial infrastructure offers the possibility of an alternative conceptualization of globalization, insofar as it focuses on a global network in which traditional centers in Europe, the United States, and East Asia play a relatively minor role.

Spiritual Economies: Islam and the Afterlife of Development

This project analyzes a socio-technical scheme for developing faith in contemporary Southeast Asia. I analyze how Islam is mobilized to facilitate the neoliberal reform of state-owned enterprises planned for privatization. Based on more than two years of ethnographic research, most of which took place at state-owned Krakatau Steel in western Java, I examine how what is referred to as “spiritual reform” is designed to address the challenge posed by the end of faith in development (the utopian aspirations inherent in modernization and industrialization). I analyze how efforts to merge Islam with the ethics of globalization create what I term the “afterlife of development”: the assemblage of a modernist commitment to rationality and domains, like religious practice, that previously lay outside the logic of modernization and development.

An interactive, hypertext essay on this project is available at: http://production.culanth.org/supplementals/101-spiritual-economies-islam-and-neoliberalism-in

A blog post on this project can be found at: http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2011/02/25/post-secular-development/

 

Recent research presentations (selected)

“Subjects of Debt: Identification and Entrepreneurialization in Islamic Finance,” Cultural Studies Center, Indiana University, October 2016

“Anti-Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance,” Southeast Asia Center, Seoul National University, October 2016

“Anti-Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance,” Department of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, April 2016.

“Anti-Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance,” Department of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University College London, February 2016.

“Anti-Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance,” Department of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex, February 2016.

“Anti-Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance,” Department of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, June 2015.

“Anti-Debt: Neoliberalism and Islamic Financialization in Malaysia,” Institut für Ethnologie, University of Heidelberg, May 2015

“Debating Islam, Consuming Finance: Islamic Banking, Halal Food, and Religious Authenticity in Malaysia,” Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University, April 2015

“Subjects of Debt?: Entrepreneurialism and Islamic Finance in Malaysia,” Department of Anthropology, University of Hong Kong, December 2014

“From Financial Inclusion to Knowing Risk: Subjectification and Malaysia’s Islamic Finance Project,” Department of Anthropology, Cornell University, October 2014 [web]

“Spiritual Capital in Practice: From Faith in Development to Developing Faith,” Metanexus Lecture, Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs, Boston University, March 2012

“Methods for an Anthropology of Modernity: A Book Discussion,” Institut d’Ethnologie Méditerranéenne, Européenne et Comparative (IDEMEC), Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, November 2011.

“Spirits and Citizens: The Politics of Religious Difference in Indonesia,” invited paper for the UCLA Indonesian Studies Program workshop “Indonesian Subjectivities in the Post-Suharto Era.” May 2010.

“Engineering Islam: From Faith in Development to Developing Faith in Indonesia,” invited lecture, KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, University of Leiden, Netherlands. November 2009.

“Reconfiguring Muslim Politics: Popularizing Islam in Indonesia,” invited paper for the SSRC-ASSR conference “Popularizing Islam, Recasting the Political” at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. November 2009.

“Practicing Globalization: Islam and the Afterlife of Development,” invited lecture, Department of Anthropology, University of Bergen, Norway. September 2009.

“Engineering Islam: From Faith in Development to Developing Faith in Contemporary Indonesia,” invited lecture, Department of Anthropology, Stockholm University, Sweden. August 2009.

“Spirits and Citizens: The Politics of Religious Difference in Indonesia,” invited lecture, Council
on Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University
Council on Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University. April 2009.

“Spiritual Economies: Islam and Neoliberalism in Contemporary Indonesia,” Center for Southeast Asia Studies, invited lecture, University of Washington. April 2008.

“Spiritual Economies: Islam and Neoliberalism in Contemporary Indonesia,” invited lecture, Critical Introductions to Islam and Muslim Politics Lecture Series, University of Puget Sound. April 2008.

“Islamic Ethics and the Spirits of Neoliberalism: Spiritual Reform in Contemporary Indonesia,” invited lecture, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside. March 2006.

“Worshipping Work: Spiritual Reform in Post-Developmental Indonesia,” invited lecture, Center for Asian Studies, Colorado University, Boulder. February 2006.