Daromir Rudnyckyj

Primary Field
Cultural Anthropology
Professor, University of Victoria, Department of Anthropology
Knowledge / Expertise
Interest/Specialty Areas Globalization; ethnography; religion; money; development; economy; social studies of finance; the state; liberalism & neoliberalism

Accepting both MA and PhD students for Fall 2020.

I am a socio-cultural anthropologist with research interests in globalization, neoliberalism, religion, alternative economies, power, and the anthropology of knowledge.  I conduct fieldwork in Southeast Asia (primarily Indonesia and Malaysia) and North America. The central problem I have pursued in my research is a critical examination of projects to make economic calculation a global norm and moral standard for the management and government of human life.

Currently, I am pursuing this line of inquiry by focusing on efforts to make Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, “the New York of the Muslim world”: the central hub in a transnational network of Islamic finance.  Islamic finance, which seeks to enable the circulation of capital while adhering to religious prohibitions against interest and speculation, is growing rapidly in many parts of the world.  My research entails an ethnographic investigation of ambitious plans in Malaysia to develop the infrastructure necessary to facilitate a transnationally viable Islamic financial system.  My fieldwork consists of observation of and participation with shariah scholars, Islamic finance professionals, banking regulators, and Islamic economists.  In the context of recent financial crises in many parts of the world, I am analyzing the debates regarding the creation of an Islamic financial system that offers a “real” alternative to conventional finance, which is based in large part on interest-bearing debt.

My previous research analyzed a socio-technical scheme for developing faith in contemporary Southeast Asia. I documented how Islam was mobilized to facilitate the neoliberal reform of state-owned enterprises planned for privatization. Based on more than two years of ethnographic research, most of which took place at state-owned Krakatau Steel in western Java, I examined how what was referred to as “spiritual reform” was designed to address the challenge posed by the end of faith in development (the utopian aspirations inherent in modernization and industrialization). I argued that efforts to merge Islam with the ethics of globalization created what I termed the “afterlife of development”: an assemblage of a modernist commitment to rationality and domains, like religious practice, that previously were discounted from the logic of modernization and development.

I welcome applications from students who are interested in any of the following areas:

  1. Globalization and development
  2. Contemporary religious practices
  3. Contemporary social change and emergent forms of living 
  4. Neoliberalism, financialization, or knowledge economies; 
  5. Society and culture in Southeast Asia
  6. The anthropology of science, technology, and knowledge


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Geographic Areas of Expertise International
East Asia and the Pacific