God and greed : money and meditation in Karachi’s marketplace



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The dissertation focuses on the shaping of merchants’ subjectivity in Karachi’s contemporary marketplace. It does this by placing human experience within the matrix of the cosmological value system, driven to a large extent by Islamic moral and ethical principles, as well as everyday material conditions, determined by economic activity. In doing so, it brings together the material and spiritual in conversation with each other. This dissertation particularly focuses on the convergence of Sufi moral discourse and meditative practices of zikr/dhikr with globalized technologies of finance capitalism. It seeks to answer: How do the two seemingly different practices converge? Modern financial practices aim to discipline merchants into becoming economic subjects accumulating capital. In contrast, the spiritual tradition of Sufi techniques shapes this excessive desire for accumulating, through the meditation (zikr/dhikr), molding the merchants into charitable subjects. Being a self-maximizing as well as a self-annihilating individual in the market, the merchant is able to contain the larger structuring of money and moral universes in everyday life. The experience generated at the threshold of accumulation and charity, I argue, gives rise to an affirmative subjectivity, which perceives the unity of existence the way it is.