Islam, Justice, and Innovating Capital in the United States

Esra Tunc
Religious Studies
UC Santa Barbara

New forms of capitalism like impact investing and social entrepreneurship, most of which emerge under the title of “socially responsible” economies, claim to contribute to the social good and solve societal inequities. This project explores how these new forms of capitalism intersect with racial, gender, environmental, and economic justice in American Muslim contexts. With a particular focus on the ethical self-representation and public relations of organizations that capitalize on investing and giving, this project explores how Islamic values are negotiated at the intersection of philanthropy and new forms of capitalism through affective, economic, and ethical relations. The research design involves twelve months of ethnographic research at two investment-based companies and two philanthropy-based organizations that are founded by American Muslims and appeal mostly to Muslim consumers. Based on participant observation and interviews with American Muslim social entrepreneurs and businesspersons, this research examines the reproduction and adaptation of capitalism through claims to invest and give for “good” and “just” reasons, critically engaging with religious traditions in their reaction to injustices under the conditions of finance capitalism.