Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance
by Daromir Rudnyckyj
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 possible alternatives seem to have little traction.
Beyond Debt describes efforts to create a transnational economy free of debt. Based on research in Malaysia, Daromir Rudnyckyj illustrates how the state, led by the central bank, seeks to make Kuala Lumpur “the New York of the Muslim world”—the central node of global financial activity conducted in accordance with Islam. Rudnyckyj shows 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 ethnographic work that reveals the impact of financial devices on human activity, he illustrates how experts deploy Islamic finance to fashion subjects who are at once more pious Muslims and more ambitious entrepreneurs. In so doing, Rudnyckyj shows how they seek to create a new "geoeconomics”—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 the global system in an emergent Islamic global city and, ultimately, to challenge the very foundations of conventional finance.
Daromir Rudnyckyj is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Victoria, Canada.