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Spiritual Economies

Spiritual Economies: Islam, Globalization, and the Afterlife of Development

Daromir Rudnyckyj
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Spiritual Economies
    Book Description:

    In Europe and North America Muslims are often represented in conflict with modernity-but what could be more modern than motivational programs that represent Islamic practice as conducive to business success and personal growth? Daromir Rudnyckyj's innovative and surprising book challenges widespread assumptions about contemporary Islam by showing how moderate Muslims in Southeast Asia are reinterpreting Islam not to reject modernity but to create a "spiritual economy" consisting of practices conducive to globalization.

    Drawing on more than two years of research in Indonesia, most of which took place at state-owned Krakatau Steel, Rudnyckyj shows how self-styled "spiritual reformers" seek to enhance the Islamic piety of workers across Southeast Asia and beyond. Deploying vivid description and a keen ethnographic sensibility, Rudnyckyj depicts a program called Emotional and Spiritual Quotient (ESQ) training that reconfigures Islamic practice and history to make the religion compatible with principles for corporate success found in Euro-American management texts, self-help manuals, and life-coaching sessions. The prophet Muhammad is represented as a model for a corporate CEO and the five pillars of Islam as directives for self-discipline, personal responsibility, and achieving "win-win" solutions.

    Spiritual Economies reveals how capitalism and religion are converging in Indonesia and other parts of the developing and developed world. Rudnyckyj offers an alternative to the commonly held view that religious practice serves as a refuge from or means of resistance against modernization and neoliberalism. Moreover, his innovative approach charts new avenues for future research on globalization, religion, and the predicaments of modern life.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6231-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction: Spiritual Reform and the Afterlife of Development
    (pp. 1-24)

    At 7:45 in the morning on May 4, 2004, I sat in an audience consisting of about two hundred and fifty Krakatau Steel employees in Banten, Indonesia. We were assembled in a large auditorium at the company’s education and training center, and we listened as Ary Ginanjar introduced spiritual training, a program that combined business leadership, human resources, and life-coaching techniques with Islamic practice. A thickset, broad-shouldered man wearing a well-tailored black business suit and a neatly trimmed mustache, Ginanjar lectured against a background of the saccharine sounds of “Silk Road,” an instrumental composition by the prolific New Age musician...

  5. Part I. Milieu

    • 1 Faith in Development
      (pp. 27-72)

      From Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city, the most common trip to Krakatau Steel takes place on one of the country’s few four-lane toll roads. During the roughly one-hundred-kilometer journey to the western extremity of the island of Java the landscape goes through several alterations. After one passes through the first set of toll gates the city itself changes from densely packed storefronts sporting signs and banners that appear more grandiose than their interiors, to a more open spatial distribution where once rural villages butt up against recent housing development scatering to the capital region’s middle and upper classes. Several massive shopping...

    • 2 Developing Faith
      (pp. 73-128)

      During the Suharto era the Indonesian state aggressively sought to develop the nation through technocratic and technological interventions. Suharto drew a measure of his legitimacy from the fact that he had introduced fiscal stability and economic growth in contrast to the price shocks and financial disorder that had characterized the Sukarno years (Robison 1986, 120; Schwarz 1994, 43–44). The regime’s success in improving the living standards of citizens served as a foil to justify authoritarian rule and political repression. The technocrats affiliated with the regime were responsible for enhancing Indonesia’s industrial and technological capacity and ensuring that macroeconomic policies...

  6. Part II. Intervention

    • 3 Spiritual Economies
      (pp. 131-156)

      In addition to engineering Islam by contending that Islam was compatible with scientific knowledge, ESQ training sought to configure a mode of Islamic practice that was conducive to corporate success in an economy no longer defined in national terms. This chapter describes an empirical manifestation of what are termed spiritual economies.¹ Spiritual economies elucidate how economic reform is conceived of and enacted as a matter of religious piety and spiritual virtue. The concept consists of three primary components: 1)reconfiguring work as a form of worship and religious duty; 2) objectifying spirituality as a site of management and intervention; and 3)...

    • 4 Governing through Affect
      (pp. 157-186)

      After an exhausting session in which ESQ participants were exposed to the climactic scene of the hit Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, Rinaldi Agusyana dramatically brought to a close the second day of an ESQ training session. He exclaimed:

      Let the tears spill as a sign of your longing for Allah, of your repentance to Allah. Ya Allah, ya Allah, chill the fire of your hell with these tears, ya Allah! Forgive all our mistakes, ya Allah! Have mercy, ya Allah! Wipe it clean, ya Allah! Wipe everything clean, ya Allah! You promised that you would wipe clean every sin, you would...

  7. Part III. Effects

    • 5 Post-Pancasila Citizenship
      (pp. 189-220)

      In a darkened hall, amidst a cacophony of plaintive wails and heavy metal music, Arfan cried out for forgiveness from Allah. This seventeen-year veteran employee of Krakatau Steel was participating in the climax of ESQ training, the simulation of the talqin ritual that represented the transition from worldly life to the afterlife. He sat on a hard metal chair in the tight embrace of a coworker and called out in tears, “Allahuak-bar...subhanahu-wa-taala...astaghfirullah.”¹The chilling blast of the air conditioning created an odd frostiness in contrast to the sweltering tropical climate outside the room and from which participants protected them-selves by overdressing...

    • 6 Spiritual Politics and Calculative Reason
      (pp. 221-252)

      I met with Umar during Ramadan in 2004 at his compact house located in the same housing development as Arfan’s on the outskirts of Serang. After pestering him for several months he had finally agreed to recount the history of an employee activist group that he had led at Krakatau Steel. We had just begun our conversation when I made what Umar considered a significant gaffe by referring to him and his colleagues as workers (buruh). He responded gruffly, “We’re not workers, we’re from a state-owned company! Employees [karyawan] are different from workers! Workers are like those over in Cikande....

  8. Conclusion: Life Not Calculated?
    (pp. 253-262)

    This book has examined the assemblage of religious resurgence, economic globalization, and fading nationalist developmentalism in Indonesia. I have shown how the spiritual economy that emerged from this assemblage is composed of a unique combination of religious ethics and principles for business success. In so doing, I treat globalization not as an era, nor as a culture or system, but rather as a set of practices. While some have shown that globalization entails the configuration of new spaces (Appadurai 1996; Gupta and Ferguson 1997b), my account has focused on the rationalization of practices. Thus, I have charted an anthropology of...

  9. References
    (pp. 263-280)
  10. Index
    (pp. 281-290)