Cultural Anthropology, Habib University, Pakistan
Fellowship : Octobre 2021 à juin 2022
Discipline(s) : Anthropology
Pays : Pakistan
Cultures of Greed seeks to trace the relationship of how merchants’ sensibility of eternal time, afterlife, death, and God, is entangled with their notions of economic success and progress. Taking clues from Islamic theosophy or theological philosophy and my ethnographic experience in Karachi’s marketplaces, I seek to place human experience at the vortex of historical and trans-historical time. The trans-historical experiences, emanating from the prophetic tradition of Islam, points towards a vertical dimension of temporality, whereby merchants invoke divine and superhuman presence in commercial practices, while historical time points to the socio-cultural condition of earthly life. The interpenetration of these two temporal frames that yet exist separately, I suggest, shapes merchants’ spiritual-ethical position as well as historical success and progress. While the messianic aspirations demand merchants to discipline their earthly desires of self-infatuation, and to strive towards ethical standards and concern for others, the secular economic world connects them to the spirit of capitalist utilitarianism. In Pakistan’s marketplaces, this relationship of negotiating spiritual-ethical position with economic progress has been put under pressure by forces unleashed by neoliberalism and religious literalism, both aspiring towards worldly goals.
Dr. Noman Baig is an Assistant Professor in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Habib University. He serves as a board member of the Institute of Money, Technology, Financial Inclusion (IMTFI at the University of California, Irvine) and Corona Times (University of Cape Town, South Africa). He finished his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Texas (Austin).