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Halalization: How do cryptocurrencies, container terminals, and frying pans come to be labeled halal?

Event Type
Department of Sociology
wifi event
Nov 1, 2021   11:00 am  
Dr. Ryan Calder
Originating Calendar
Department of Sociology

Assistant Professor, Dr. Ryan Calder from Johns Hopkins wil present on Political Economy and Islamic Finance. Dr. Calder's talk will specifically be on the halalization project.

Abstract: "In Islam, the extension of religious regulation and certification to new product typesand economic sectors—“halalization”—has become widespread. There are now Islamicmortgages, halal ports, halal refrigerators, halal blockchain, and shariah-compliantcryptocurrencies. Yet classical secularization theory says religious authority cannot regulatemodern economic activity. So what explains halalization? I point to an elective affinitybetween fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and twenty-first-century markets. Contemporary fiqhoffers widely respected religious jurists who issue fatwas certifying products. Entrepreneursempanel the jurists on certification boards, allowing fiqh to function as a regime of voluntaryregulation layered atop secular state law instead of conflicting with it. Indeed, secular liberalmarkets provide ideal conditions for halalization and religious meaning-making throughconsumption. Case studies of Islamic finance and halal logistics show how entrepreneursassuage consumers’ religious anxieties—and generate new ones—in the context ofglobalization and liberalization in secular markets."

Bio: "Professor Calder (PhD UC Berkeley 2014) studies the relationship between 21st-century capitalism and 21st-century religion. Classical social theorists such as Karl Marx and Max Weber argued that religious authority over markets and market actors tends to decline as economies modernize. Yet today, there are industries and firms thriving under religious regulation and certification by producing goods and services that are, by most definitions, "modern." In Islam, there are shariah-compliant mortgages and cryptocurrencies, halal ports, halal refrigerators, and halal blockchain; in Judaism, Shabbat-mode appliances, kosher enzymes, kosher mobile phones, and kosher investment funds; in Christianity, mutual funds that meet Lutheran, Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic, Mennonite, and Christian Scientist screening criteria; and in Hinduism, a business empire selling toothpaste, ghee, and other consumer goods approved by a famous Indian guru. Contrary to the expectations of classical theory, many of these industries and firms are highly rationalized: that is, they operate efficiently and systematically in order to maximize profitability.So how is this possible? Under what conditions can religious authority govern markets? How does religious authority extend to new typesof products and services? What kinds of subjectivities and forms of piety make religious governance of markets possible, and what kinds are in turn fostered by them? These questions animate my current research."

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