Critiques of Capitalism: Christian and Muslim Voices

IAIS Building, Seminar Room 1, 2-3 June 2014 - Network for Religion in Public Life

This conference brings together scholars committed to exploring diverse problems besetting contemporary capitalism from a variety of Christian and Muslim perspectives. The terms ‘critique’ and ‘capitalism’ are both ambiguous and fraught with tensions. Together we aim to examine some of these tensions by unpacking carefully the meaning of capital, theories of economic practices that inform market exchange as an ‘ethic’ in itself, contradictions between contemporary capitalism and democracy, and collective rights for workers — all in dialogue with sacred texts and significant theologians from the three traditions. Our practical focus is on how practising Christians and Muslims might together resist the systemic violence of unrestrained capitalism and offer alternative modes of money-exchange, banking, accounting standards, financial transactions, and insurance. We shall examine also the claim that these aims might better be advanced by the inclusion in public debate of explicitly religious voices.

At present, the available funding will cover only accommodation and lunches. Attendees are asked to pay their own travel, evening dinner, and other costs. There is no conference fee. The intention is to seek publication for the collection of essays that will result from our working together — though this is not an absolute requirement and attendees are welcome to attend without committing to this objective.


For full programme details, please download the Critiques of Capitalism Programme


Dr Rashid Begg

Before joining the University of Kurdistan, Rashid worked as a lecturer at Stellenbosch University in South Africa and prior to that, as a researcher at the University of Toronto, Canada. A native South African and a Canadian citizen, Rashid holds a Ph.D. in Sociology with special interests in social theory and understanding the historical linkages between religion, politics and economics. His primary methodological interest is historical sociology. His most recent works include the popular book, The Hajj (ISBN# 978-0-620-51783-6). His recent papers include ‘Otherwise than Being: Levinas' compassion’ and ‘Nagarjuna's karuna, Cult-Church Dynamics within the Nation of Islam’, ‘Hadith as a Means of Routinizing Charisma’ and ‘Anselm of Canterbury and Abu Hamid al-Ghaz’. He Dean of the School of Social Sciences.

Dr Brian Brock

Reader in Divinity, University of Aberdeen. Brian's main interests lie in moral and practical theology. He writes: ‘In an English-speaking context practical theology has acquired an orientation toward the hermeneutics of contemporary culture. This orientation rightly warns moral theology against drifting to a level of abstraction that makes it appear irrelevant for the moral decisions of daily life. At the same time, moral theology serves practical theology by insisting that interpretation is not endless, but is properly circumscribed by doctrinal and confessional frameworks. His engagements with Christian doctrine and cultural hermeneutics are tied together by a third interest in the role scripture plays in God's work of generating a people with a distinctive ethos.’ His recent books include: Christian Ethics in a Technological Age (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010); Singing the Ethos of God: On the Place of Christian Ethics in Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007); and Ed. with J. Swinton, Theology, Disability and the New Genetics: Why Science Needs the Church (London: T&T Clark, 2007).

Recep İhsan Eliaçık

Author and philosopher, İhsan is one of the most respected and debated intellectuals in Turkey who criticizes rightwing, capitalist interpretations of the Qur’an and Islam through a counter history and intellectual tradition within Islam. He studied at the faculty of divinity at Erciyes University and has been conducting his studies as an independent researcher. His area of expertise is interpretation of Qur’an. He wrote a three volume on interpretation of the Qur’an entitled Yaşayan Kur’an (Living Qur’an) and focuses mainly on the analysis of property-related issues. His method of interpretation provoked a heated debate in Turkey among left-wing oriented and Islamic scholars on the relation between Islam, capitalism and socialism, and he has been influential in inspiring a youth movement in Turkey described as Anti-Capitalist Muslims. He publishes and broadcasts his articles and speeches in his personal website:

Professor Timothy J. Gorringe

Tim’s Emeritus Professor of Theological Studies, University of Exeter. His academic interests focus on the interrelation between theology, social science, art and politics. His most recent books are The Common Good and the Global Emergency (CUP 2011) and Earthly Visions: Theology and the Challenges of Art (Yale 2011). He is at present working on a two year AHRC funded research project on the values that underpin constructive social change, focussing on the Transition Town Movement.

Dr Serdar Şengül

Serdar is currently chair of Department of Anthropology at Mardin Artuklu University. He received his PhD in anthropology at Hacettepe University where he studied the effects of modernization process on the classical learning institutions (madrasas) in the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire. His main research interests today include how modernisation processes affect the epistemologies, cosmologies and forms of lives of pre-modern societies in Islamic World. He has recently published articles, one of which is on the Anti-capitalist Muslims in Turkey, entitled “Anti- Capitalist Muslims Between Theology and Anthropology”. Another is on the debates on anthropology of Islam, entitled “Towards an Anthropology of Islam: Opportunities and Challenges”.

Dr Matthias Varul

Matthias is Senior Lecturer in the department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter. His research interests are in cultural sociology and social theory, and particularly in the moral, religious and imaginative implications of capitalist practices of production, exchange and consumption. He is author of Geld und Gesundheit: Konsum als Transformation von Geld in Moral [Money and Health: Consumption as Transformation of Money into Morality], Berlin, Logos Verlag, 2004, and currently writing a book under the working title Ghosts of Capitalisms Past, Present and Yet to Come: Spirits, Spectres and Visions from the Protestant Ethic to Libertarian Socialism.