Since the 1980s, neoliberalism has expanded enormously as ideology and practice, continuously transforming institutions, discourses, and people across borders. As free market processes accelerated, neoliberals sang the praises of liberalized trade and markets, austerity measures, and the reduction of social welfare. Yet, rising income disparities and worldwide uprisings against neoliberal practices, from the Middle East to Europe and the States, all pose a profound empirical challenge to the invincibility and effectiveness of neoliberalism. The political awakening and emergent discourses of dissent in the Arab Spring effectively demonstrate the intersections between repressive governance and economic discontent in the neoliberal Middle East, for instance.
Neoliberalism thus penetrates the social and the political in unique ways as various actors redefine public spaces, galvanize new subjectivities, and grassroots mobilization against inequity. As well, neoliberalism encompasses the transformation of power relations as it fosters new forms of governmentality and public management, both challenging and buttressing Weberian bureaucratic structures. These new and shifting forms of neoliberal governmentality have also affected the place and practice of religion, challenging ethnographers to question both the relevance and the contours of separate realms such as “economy” and “religion” across private and public domains.
Religious forms, practices and obligations may end up tolerating, promoting or resisting specific strategies of neoliberalism (Rudnycky 2010; Mauer 2005; Shehabuddin 2008; and others). In turn, religious bodies have used neoliberal processes of governance to gain more power and/or legitimacy in the public realm. This panel seeks to interrogate how the religious and the neoliberal intersect in specific moments beyond the conventional binary of the secular and the religious (Mahmood 2012, White 2012, Tugal 2011). How does this intersection underwrite new forms of sociality, activism, and political meaning? Our panel is open to submissions from researchers focusing on varied religious groups, beliefs and practices, but we especially encourage submissions from those studying Islam. Our goal is to delineate and investigate the ways in which religious/ethical discourses and practices of self-formation intersect with neoliberal sensibilities, creating fresh publics, forms of resistance and/or compliance along ethnic, gendered, and classed divisions. We seek papers that explore
the discursive, performative, and material practices that thrive in the overlap between these meta-discourses and shifting subject positions in tangible geographies.
Looking for article abstracts on, for example, the following topics:
1) New forms of governmentality, regarding individual and public religious practice
2) Varied meanings and practices of piety within the context of economic globalization
3) Emergent public spaces and publics
4) Social welfare, philanthropy, and civil society
4) Marginalization, disadvantage, and political dissent
5) Religious (and secular) activism
6) Gender, sexuality, and ethnicity as markers or agents of change in the overlapping sphere of religion and political-economy
7) Ethical dilemmas of responding to neoliberal reforms and practices
250-word submissions with contact information and a brief bio to be sent to both: Damla Isik (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Öykü Potuoglu-Cook (email@example.com) by 30 March 2012 the latest. Those who are included in the panel must become AAA members (or renew their memberships) and register for the conference prior to 15 April 2012 which is the deadline for panel submissions.