GWU scholar examines links between neoliberalism and Islamic charity in Egypt [VIDEO]

screen shot 2015 04 29 at 6 55 44 pm

As part of the Arab Reform and Democracy Program's speaker series, George Washington University scholar Mona Atia discussed her book Building a House in Heaven: Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt. Islamic charities occupied a critical space in Mubarak-era Egypt. While there are a plethora of organizational types and activities, Atia's book describes a particular type of work performed by Islamic charities as a merging of religious and capitalist subjectivity, or pious neoliberalism. Pious neoliberalism describes how Islamism works in conjunction with neoliberalism rather than as an alternative to it. It represents a new compatibility between business and piety that is not specific to any religion, but rather is a result of the ways in which religion and economy interact in the contemporary moment. In Egypt, pious neoliberalism produces new institutions, systems of knowledge production and subjectivities. The lecture explored the relationship between Islamic charity and Egypt’s variegated religious landscape. The author discussed how Islamic charities helped spread Islamic practices outside the space of the mosque and into everyday life/spaces and their impact on development in Egypt.