Posts Tagged ‘economics’

November 7th, 2016

Trumping reality

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The Unblinking Eye | Image via Flickr user Darron BirgenheierWhy those who support Trump do so can be captured by perspectives on income, not income itself; by perspectives on race and immigration, not by racial identity; by a sense that everybody else is wrong for the job, even if he is not quite right for it. Consider: 63 percent of Trump voters favor revoking birthright citizenship (compared to the 51 percent in the overall Republican National Committee (GOP) electorate). Sixty-six percent of Trump supporters claim that President Barack Obama is a Muslim—twelve points higher than the overall GOP figure.

These perspectival shards press us to think about what organizes groups to adhere to ideas that seem senseless to those outside the group; to observe, as well, the fear of those groups. They press us to think, among other things, about religion.

June 16th, 2016

The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault: An introduction

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Traditionally, Western thought framed human life as evolving in a three-dimensional space: the economic, the political, and the philosophical. Nowadays, as in times past, this tradition sets its origins in classical Athens, a time when the happy and self-sufficient public life of politics and the solitary one of philosophy were nourishing on the surplus generated by the economy. The economy was confined to the private sphere of the household and excluded from the public sphere that was occupied by politics. The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault retells the history of the West following the less traversed economic side of the story by conducting a philological history that traces the meanings that were attached to the notion of oikonomia in Greek speaking antiquity. Doing so, the book offers a twist on the historical narrative of the present: it argues that the rise of the “economy of the mystery which from eternity has been hid in God who created all things” (Ephesians 3:9) in Greek-speaking Christianity of late antiquity plays a decisive role in this history. By reinserting this too-often ignored chapter, the book goes beyond closing a great gap in the histories of economic thought, philosophical inquiries, and political theory. As the research conducted in the book is of a genealogical nature, The Origins of Neoliberalism holds (and demonstrates) that recovering the mysteries of the economy in early Christianity is of great relevance for any critical engagement with neoliberalism, let alone overcoming it.

November 17th, 2015

Spirits of Capitalism: Exploring Religion and Economy

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A session entitled “Spirits of Capitalism: Exploring Religion and Economy” will serve as an exploratory session for a potential new AAR program unit entitled “Religion and Economy.”

October 16th, 2013

Conceptualizing pluralism and consensus in the modern Western world

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Without pointing out those places where I agree with Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation, I would like to add a qualification to his claim that the modern Western world is correctly described as “hyperpluralistic.” The term “hyperpluralism” is sometimes used in socio-political discourse to refer to the fragmentation of political interest groups and the resulting challenges associated with forming coalitions. Gregory, however, often writes about “contemporary Western hyperpluralism with respect to truth claims about meaning, morality, values, priorities, and purpose.” He thus uses the term in a more general sense, which includes moral, philosophical, cultural, political and theological aspects.

May 3rd, 2012

Secularism and the freedom to transform lives

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In this post I explore the case of Bangladesh: the state of secularism there and the tensions and polemics that accompany the pursuit of an ideal secular state and society. I do this by reflecting on reactions surrounding women’s turn to greater religious engagement fostered through their participation in Quranic discussion circles in Dhaka. In outlining some of the tensions underlying the reactions, I wish to draw attention to the stakes of remaining confined to a binary view of religion and secularism, especially as new religious forces and faces come into the public space with the intent of developing and transforming it.

April 11th, 2012

The power of pluralist thinking

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It is hard to remember, but religious pluralism meant something quite different fifty years ago. We have, I would argue, so shifted our collective understanding of religious pluralism, and this transformation has been so naturalized, that we have little common conception that this shift even happened and much less sense of its consequences.

January 23rd, 2012

Goldman’s foray into Islamic finance

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Goldman Sachs is facing new controversy, this time in the Islamic world.

November 23rd, 2010

A Catholic critique of capital?

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A lengthy profile by John Cornwell, which appears in the November issue of Prospect, examines the biography and the philosophical work of Alasdair MacIntyre, particularly in regard to the relevance of his Marx-inflected Thomism for confronting the ongoing crisis of capitalist economies in Europe and the U.S.

October 21st, 2010

Have atheism and political radicalism parted ways?

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So argues John Milbank at the ABC (that’s the Australian Broadcasting Corp.) Religion and Ethics page—indeed, that they have not only diverged but become, in effect, contrary to one another.

October 13th, 2010

Hinduism, prosperity, and India’s rising middle class

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The tendency in recent years of some U.S. evangelical and Pentecostal Christian preachers to celebrate immense wealth, rather than critique it—what is known as the “prosperity gospel”—is not unique to those forms of Christianity or to the United States. According an article by Mary Fitzgerald in The Irish Times, Meera Nanda’s new book, The God Market, chronicles a similar movement emerging in India.

September 23rd, 2010

The future of China’s past: An interview with Mayfair Yang

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Anthropologist Mayfair Yang teaches in the Religious Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has done pioneering work discovering, describing, and reflecting on the fate of traditional culture in post-revolutionary China through numerous articles and edited volumes, two documentary films, and her book Gifts, Favors, and Banquets: the Art of Social Relationships in China. Throughout, she brings the insights of post-colonial theory and gender studies to bear on the living remnants of ancient ways of life. She is currently writing a new book, Re-Enchanting Modernity: Sovereignty, Ritual Economy, and Indigenous Civil Order in Coastal China.

July 12th, 2010

Power spots

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“Shoveling fog” is Courtney Bender’s acute phrase for the work of “studying spirituality,” an amorphous term that has suffered much scorn and derision at the hands of both scholars and skeptics, nonplussed as they are by its conceptual vagueness and lack of clear social boundaries. While The New Metaphysicals does not tidy up the concepts or borders of spirituality, it goes a long way toward providing a new way of seeing its contours in the twenty-first-century United States, by zooming in on the present and past of metaphysical adepts in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Carefully attending to a network of metaphysical practices, which include past life regression, yoga, Reiki, out-of-body experiences, and a “mystical discussion group,” Bender finds that though these practices have a long and storied past in the salons, woods, and lecture halls of Cambridge, their contemporary practitioners are not really that interested in claiming, or even knowing about, such lineages.

March 15th, 2010

The (really) strong program

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Whenever there is talk about an ‘emerging strong program’ and ‘a new sociology of religion,’ we need to keep in mind not only where we might be going, but where we have come from. Given the apparent centrality of religion to much of the modern world, and what now appear to be the limitations of the secularization thesis, we should welcome any sign of a revival of the fortunes of the sociology of religion. However, I have serious doubts about its annunciation. We will need more than research into which religions are figured as independent variables, or which receive some positive evaluation from social scientists, in order to herald the birth of a strong program.

March 1st, 2010

America’s wealthiest religions?

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The most popular post at GOOD last week, Transparency: America’s Wealthiest Religions, featured an infographic portraying the varying income levels of major religious groups compared to the national average income. A new post details some of the debate generated by the feature.

February 25th, 2010

Economic breakdown by religious group

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We try to understand the relationship between economics and nearly every other demographic characteristic, so why not religion? This chart from GOOD, in collaboration with Column Five Media, breaks down the main religious groups in the US by income.

February 19th, 2010

Jewish economic ambivalence

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From Princeton University Press, historian Jerry Z. Muller has a new book on Capitalism and the Jews.

February 10th, 2010

Colin Dayan: “‘Civilizing’ Haiti”

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In the Boston Review, Colin Dayan argues that woefully little has changed since the colonial era with respect to Western perceptions of Haiti as a cretin backwater. Moreover, the institutionalized graft that the colonialist ideology underwrites remains in full effect.

February 8th, 2010

“American depressions”

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At Tikkun Magazine, Harriet Fraad points to five sources that have “devastated the American moral, economic, psychological, and social landscape.”

February 2nd, 2010

Is Islamic finance safe?

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As we’ve sometimes noted here, advocates have claimed that Islamic, Sharia-compliant financial products and systems are safer than conventional ones. At Davos, reports Reuters, a top regulator for the government of Qatar disagrees.

January 31st, 2010

Haiti and the unseen world

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I have written a good bit recently about the intense religious responses to the Haiti earthquake, as congregations regroup in public spaces in search of meaning and mutual support. To approach such events from the vantage point of religious studies is to attend to how groups engage with powers in an unseen cosmic realm that they themselves have constructed. Now I find myself thinking about how crucial it is to engage in frank analysis about rebuilding Haiti in terms of the unseen world of hidden, covert, and sometimes illegal political and economic deals between both Haitians and Americans (and others) that have been instrumental in shaping the overlapping crises that Haitians confront. So far, many social scientists and policy commentators have written about rebuilding as if other countries, international organizations, and the Haitian government itself relate to the Haitian nation in public, official, legal, and traceable ways, when this is often simply not the case.

January 20th, 2010

Values for the Post-Crisis Economy

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The World Economic Forum has released “Faith and the Global Agenda: Values for the Post-Crisis Economy,” an annual report on issues related to the role of faith in global affairs. John J. DeGioia, the President of Georgetown University, which collaborated on the report, explains its rationale: “The economic and financial crisis is an opportunity to re-articulate the values that should underpin our global institutions going forward. The world’s religious communities are critical repositories of those values.”

December 7th, 2009

Islamic finance undergoes test in Dubai

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In the New York Times, Heather Timmons reports on the looming debt crisis in Dubai and the questions that it elicits concerning the legal mechanisms of Islamic finance.

December 2nd, 2009

Secularity and prosperity

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At Miller-McCune, David Villano explores the recent publication in the online journal Evolutionary Psychology of a study by independent researcher, Gregory S. Paul, which indicates a correlation between prosperity and secularity at the national level.  Paul found that amongst a group of develped nations, those that were least religious were also the most prosperous.

June 29th, 2009

Common sense

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Obama’s speeches are glorious. They are a joy to listen to and to read later. He is able to dig deep into the rich rhetorical tradition of the Christian world and of the Founding Fathers, and to articulate a call for awakening that is powerful. But how far is it from our world, from our time? There is an anachronistic edge not only in the cadence, but also in the logic—nothing here about the desertion of populations by the government, the allowance of the few to dominate the wealth produced by the many, and the turn to violence when other means wither in the quiver. Ethical systems cannot be built upon each other without any consideration of social transformations. It is not language alone that we must attend to, but even more so to the social context of the language. Celebrations of “American character” and of the “God-given promise that all are equal” are emotive, powerful symbols of an age that is now no longer with us.

October 14th, 2008

Welcome to the faith-based economy

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Last week as I listened, along with many other Americans and others around the world, to President Bush’s most recent effort to reassure us about the current economic meltdown I had a “Road to Damascus” moment.  It happened as I heard Bush repeat the word “faith”. […]

September 11th, 2008

The religious undercurrents of Muslim economic grievances

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In his contribution to a web forum organized by the SSRC immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Timur Kuran wrote.

January 3rd, 2008

Religions and the postnational constellation

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habermas_the-postnational-constellation.jpgGranted that there is a global economy, global culture, global law, global civil society, even global festivals, why are global institutions both so promising and so weak? I want to turn to Jürgen Habermas, Europe’s leading social philosopher, for help, looking particularly at his remarkable essay of 1998, “The Postnational Constellation and the Future of Democracy.”