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Economy in practice: Islamic finance and the problem of market reason



Proponents of Islamic finance are working to make Kuala Lumpur the “New York of the Muslim World”: the central node in a global Islamic alternative to the conventional financial system. Amidst this ambitious project, I document how Islamic finance experts represent economic rationality as an object of reflection and I examine their responses to the economism intrinsic to market reason. Islamic finance is not wholly opposed to economic rationality, but the market calculations endemic to what experts term “conventional finance” serve as an unavoidable point of reference, comparison, and differentiation. I refer to reflection on economic rationality as “economy in practice,” a conceptualization that seeks to illuminate the various techniques through which humans are made economic subjects.

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