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Governing Globalising Islamic Economies: Kuala Lumpur and Dubai's Competing Visions

Monday October 21, 2019, at 13:30
Room 24.021 (Ground floor). Mercè Rodoreda 24 building
Research seminar

Lena Rethel (University of Warwick)

Over the last four decades, increasingly transnationalized Islamic economies – of work and production, of finance and consumption – have emerged as Muslims around the world seek to reconcile faith and everyday life in a global economy. Current estimates put the size of the Islamic economy at an aggregate value of more than US$4 trillion. About half of this economy is made up of financial products and services structured so that they comply with Islamic principles. However, the Islamic economy also includes the increasing production of and trade in (certified) halal food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics and a wide range of other economic products and services. The emergence and expansion of these new market forms, in particular the growth of cross-border Islamic economic flows, has resulted in new attempts to develop international frameworks for their governance. To date, these efforts have mainly taken the form of voluntary standards and mutual (or even unilateral) recognition of domestic certification regimes. Malaysia has been leading international efforts to create in particular a framework for the global governance of Islamic finance. More recently, Dubai has also begun to project its own vision of the Islamic economy. This paper compares regulatory instantiations of competing visions of the Islamic economy, drawing on conference ethnography as well as interviews with regulators and market practitioners.  

Lena Rethel joined the University of Warwick in August 2011 and is now Associate Professor of International Political Economy. Her research interests include the relationship between finance and development, financialisation and the politics of debt, alternative globalisations and the disciplinary parameters and spatial location of contemporary IPE. Substantively, her work to date has concentrated on both the theories and common senses that underpin financial policymaking, the question of how this leads to institutional change (in particular the expansion of capital markets and development of Islamic finance) and the socio-economic implications of these changes. Her research has been grounded primarily in insights from the Southeast Asia region. From September 2018 to November 2020, she will focus on a new project that examines the growth of transnational Islamic economic flows and their governance. This research is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship.