Networks, Flows, and Displacements Across Eurasia, an annual symposium that explores the myriad connections and disruptions at play in the Eurasian space, convened for the second time on November 17. A distinguished group of scholars addressed the topic of Islamic Economies, the chosen theme for 2020, under the sponsorship of REEI and two of its IU Title VI partners, the East Asian Studies Center and the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center.
Aisalkyn Botoeva, Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Russian, European, and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University, who pursues research in socio-economic developments and economic decision-making in the face of uncertainty, was the first speaker. Botoeva explored the “economy of poverty” central to many Islamic institutions in her presentation entitled “Halal Inequality? Discourses and Practices of the Islamic Economy in Central Asia.” She pointed out that many Islamic institutions decline to address ethical questions that are raised by the growing inequality of the Islamic world. Rather, they allow the "halalifying" of goods and services in the market to absorb their focus, and in doing they also "halalify" the social inequality arising within the Islamic economic sector.
Sufian Zhemukhov, Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University followed with a presentation on “Hajj in Russia: State Policy and Industry Management.” Zhemukhov plotted an economic and statistical course to chart the dynamics of the Hajj industry among the regions of Russia to trace and evaluate Russian state policy towards Hajj from the period of Mongol domination to the Soviet era and into our own day.
Finally, Patricia Sloane-White, Professor of Anthropology and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Delaware, spoke on “Corporate Islam: The Modern Malaysian Corporation as a ‘Small Islamic State.’” Sloane-White examined how pious corporate owners seek to regulate the lives and experiences of ordinary Malaysian Muslims in workplace settings, just as the state-based authorities seek to do so in Muslim private and public life. Thus, the workplace has become not just a place to work, but a site of moral and pious regulation.
In addition, Dr. Shariq Siddiqui, Assistant Professor of Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University–Purdue University and the Director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, served as discussant for the symposium. In his commentary, Siddiqui described how many current and past Islamic scholars address the blending of Islamic faith with economic interests.
A video recording of the event is available here.