Abstract

Malaysia's plans to become a transnational hub for Islamic finance represent an effort to mobilize religion to create new global networks for the circulation of capital. This article first contextualizes such efforts within the broader contours of Malaysia's political history, addressing the classification of ethnicity and religion by both the colonial and postcolonial states. The article describes how Islamic finance is defined by practitioners in Malaysia and explains the key features they invoke to distinguish it from what they call “conventional finance”. Finally, it identifies the steps undertaken by the state to make the country a global center of Islamic finance. As the recent financial crises have shaken confidence in North Atlantic financial systems, Malaysia is geographically and culturally well-positioned between two emergent economic regions currently at the forefront of global economic growth.

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