Resetting neoliberal values: Lawmaking in Malaysia¹s Islamic finance

Authors: Jane Pollard*, Newcastle University, Jessie Poon, Department of Geography, University of Buffalo, New York, Yew Wah Chow, Department of Business, SUNY College Buffalo
Topics: Economic Geography, Asia
Keywords: Islamic Finance, Malaysia, Legal labor
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In economic geography and cognate disciplines, a good deal of attention has been paid to the roles of investors, lenders, analysts, advisors, actuaries, and other skilled financial professionals in forming and reproducing financial and other markets. Relatively neglected, by contrast, is the work of lawyers, judges and other legal agents. This article redresses this imbalance by making two contributions. First, we highlight the role of legal labor in financial market formation in Malaysia, specifically the role of Shariah jurists and translators in institutionalizing the (re)production of Islamic values in market life. Second, drawing on cases of financial litigation and interviews with Shariah scholars, we argue that Malaysia¹s strategy to develop its Islamic financial governance institutions, to bolster its international stature and extend the regional, national and international reach and mobility of its Islamic values, is intrinsically geographical in nature. The strategy involves a rescaling and consolidation of legal spaces and institutions - including the Central Bank, the juridical system, Islamic universities,research think-tanks, and their Shariah bureaucrats and professionals - to facilitate the geographical mobility of Malaysian sharia expertise to otherwise secular legal spaces. Yet, we argue that this strategy has not led to a retreat from neoliberal influence but rather a re-ordering of market values and norms that collateralizes moral risks in addition to market risks.

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