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Islam and the Construction of New Economic Moralities Conference

The conference with the theme, “Islam and the Construction of New Economic Moralities: Divergence, Convergence and Competing Futures” to be held at the University of California.

An international mini-conference with the theme, “Islam and the Construction of New Economic Moralities: Divergence, Convergence and Competing Futures.”  The conference will be held at the University of California-Berkeley June 24-26, 2016, as part of a larger SASE conference with the highly relevant theme, “Moral Economies, Economic Moralities.”  Selection of papers will be based on 1000 word extended abstracts, which are due January 18, 2016.  Full papers will be due May 30, 2016.  Three best papers awards will be given, as well as a limited number of travel grants for graduate students.

This mini-conference invites contributions from across the social sciences and humanities to reflect on the past, present, and contested futures of Islam’s new financial and economic moralities. As part of the Islamic revival of the 1970s and 1980s, social movements worldwide have pursued multiple strategies to imagine and implement an economic system organized around Islamic values such as social justice, reciprocity and the spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, and material well-being of individuals. This includes the US$2.5 trillion Islamic finance industry and US$1.29 trillion halal food market, not to mention Islamic “modest fashion,” halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and Islamically-marketed travel, recreation, and lifestyle products.  It also includes philanthropic institutions such as pious foundations (waqf) and charities funded by almsgiving (zakah).  Islamic economic practices range from the morally guided everyday practices of individuals to those of multinational corporations and state elites seeking to enter and advance Islamic markets. With the hindsight of forty years, we can observe heterogeneous and explicitly competing Islamic economic moralities, found at various scales of socio-economic organization.

Three overlapping research projects have emerged as a result of the rapid growth of the Islamic economy. First, it has attracted social scientists seeking to document and interpret the historical and contemporary dynamics of this new socio-economic phenomenon. This strand of scholarship studies the emergence of the Islamic economy either on its own terms, or with reference to its convergence and divergence with other economies, be they explicitly moral or otherwise. Second, it has generated research by academics and practitioners to advance this socio-economic project. In this scholarship, Islamic economy is often conceptualized as part of an emerging alternative modernity that explicitly embraces the morality of economic action. Third, it has also generated scholarship critical of Islamic economic practices, particularly in Islamic banking and finance. Much of this third research stream argues that Islamic finance is excessively focused on efficiency and profitability at the expense of Islamic moral values such as equity, fairness, and individual development. Importantly, it debates the extent to which the Islamic finance industry has diverged from Islamic idea(l)s, investigates alternative aspirations for Islamic finance, and deliberates strategies for transforming its current trajectory.

Embracing all three research streams, the conference aims to (i) (re-)examine the key axioms and moral claims of Islamic economy both in theory and as practiced; (ii) explore the economic, social and political dynamics underpinning the various sectors, scales and sites of the Islamic economy; and (iii) interrogate the extent to which the Islamic economy provides a substantive alternative to mainstream economic activity with a special emphasis on the Islamic finance sector.

Please note that candidates should send 1000 word abstracts by January 18, 2016 (and not 500 word abstracts, as is typical in other SASE panels).

For additional information, Click Here.

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