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Reviewed by:
  • Spiritual Economies: Islam, Globalization, and the Afterlife of Development
  • Sunny Tanuwidjaja (bio)
Spiritual Economies: Islam, Globalization, and the Afterlife of Development. By Daromir Rudnyckyj. Itacha and London: Cornell University Press, 2010. Softcover: 289pp.

In this book, Rudnyckyj compellingly argues that religion is not only compatible with globalization but can positively influence it. The author focuses on the Emotional and Spiritual Quotient (ESQ) training of employees at the Karakatau Steel factory in Indonesia. He concludes that Islam is not a refuge from, or resistance to, globalization but instead is concordant with it. More specifically, ESQ training translates Islamic teachings into practical principles such as self-discipline, accountability and transparency which are essential elements for promoting competitiveness and thus survival in an era of economic globalization. In other words, ESQ training has made Islamic teachings not an adversary of profit oriented globalization, but instead a prerequisite for its success. Through Islam, globalization can be viewed not only as a force which promotes material self-interests, but also a process to promote spiritual well-being.

Rudnyckyj chooses the Karakatau Steel factory as his case study because it is a place where "... nationalist development model, the resurgence of Islamic practices, and economic globalization met ..." (pp. 5-6). The author examines the steel factory during two different periods. Under the New Order regime (1966-98), the philosophy that was instilled into the community was one of faith in development which aimed to promote economic development. Putting the state at the centre of the project as the main driver of financial, technological and knowledge investment, employees were led to believe that their work was central to the success, glory and development of the nation-state. In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in 1998, when faith in economic development declined, the factory changed its philosophy to developing faith (which in this case meant the Muslim faith). The proponents of this philosophy argued that faith in development had failed because it separated religious ethics from economic development; this in turn led to moral degradation, rampant corruption and low productivity. The development of faith philosophy, on the other hand, puts religious ethics at the centre in order to instill individual piety for greater productivity and thus competitiveness (p. 132). The focus is to apply religious principles in everyday working activities and to encourage employees to view their work as a form of worship. Developing faith philosophy does not reject economic development but instead transforms its logic from [End Page 154] focusing on technology and knowledge to focusing on individual morals and religious ethics. In Rudnyckyj's words: "They did not call into question the conceptual foundation of developmentalism; they sought to reform how development was executed. ... Spiritual reform was posited as an antidote to the failure of state-directed development ... " (p. 126).

Although when explaining his methodology Rudnyckyj emphasizes his adherence to Weber and Foucault's approach, both of whom preferred to avoid longitudinal generalization due to their appreciation of the presence of historical contingency, he does not shy away from making spatial generalizations by arguing that his study represents general patterns in Indonesia particularly in the post-New Order era. He points out that the religious and spiritual training undertaken at the Karakatau Steel factory has been repeated hundreds of times in other state-owned firms, government offices and private companies across Indonesia (p. 18).

In the first chapter, the author describes the Suharto era when faith in development was the key philosophy and aimed to resolve the challenges of underdevelopment and poverty through science, technology and knowledge, with the state as the central driver. In Chapter Two, Rudnyckyj explains the shift of paradigm in Indonesia's development project from faith in development to developing faith due to the perceived failure of the New Order's development project in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. Here the author examines ESQ training as one of the key focal programmes in promoting development of faith in Indonesian society. The third chapter explains the concept of spiritual economies, which consists of three main aspects: work as a form of worship and religious duty; religion and spirituality as a form of intervention; and individual ethics as a...


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pp. 154-156
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