Faith-Based Charity and the Security State: Containing People and Finance in Risk Societies

Advanced Seminar

December 8–12, 2013

Faith-based Charity and the Security StateFaith-based Charity and the Security StateAdvanced Seminar Chaired by Erica Caple James, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, December 8–12, 2013.Faith-based Charity and the Security StateAdvanced Seminar Chaired by Erica Caple James, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, December 8–12, 2013.

Whereas religiously inspired organizations manage and provide support to marginal populations on behalf of Western governments, in some contemporary circumstances, the work of faith-based nonprofits is viewed as a threat to civil society and the sovereignty and security of the nation-state. In channeling transnational flows of persons and finance, faith-based nonprofits are under increased surveillance and regulation by Western governments as a component of antiterrorism strategies. This advanced seminar explored the relationships between faiths, ideals of giving, and concepts of “security”—human, institutional, national, and international—in historical and cross-cultural contexts.

Focusing on producing an edited volume tentatively titled, Faith, Charity and the Security State, participants met each day to discuss the themes of the seminar and to identify common threads amongst individual seminarians’ papers. The threads that emerged and were agreed upon for discussion in the publication were: the ways in which religiosity, believing, moral sentiments, and “affective economies”—whether positive or negative—influence charitable action. In addition, criteria for worthiness of charity and assistance; factors constituting risks for individuals, organizations, and governments; and outlining the legal frameworks that authorize particular forms of charity (or charitable institutions) were to be included.

“Overall, the seminar was incredibly productive and provided a wonderful launching point for the future volume,” reported seminar chair, Erica Caple James.

Erica Caple James, Chair Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Policing Philanthropy and Criminalizing Charity in the “War on Terror”
Maurizio Albahari Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame I was a Stranger….at Italy’s Threshold: Charity as Relations of Pastoral Power and of Justice
Mona Atia Assistant Professor of Geography and International Affairs, Department of Geography, George Washington University Mitigating Risk: Islamic Charities, Calculative Regimes and the Promotion of Entrepreneurial Subjects in Egypt
Catherine Besteman Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Colby College Hostile Charity: Somali Bantu Refugees and Risk in a New Security Age
Elisabeth Clemens Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago A Believing and Benevolent Nation: Interdenominational Organizing, Ecumenism and National Solidarity in American Political Development
Chris Garces Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University Charity by and for Juridical Hostages: the International Prison Fellowship in Ecuador's Security State
C. Julia Huang Professor, Institute of Anthropology, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan The End(s) of Compassion? Buddhist “Church” Charity, the State, and the Regime of Civil Morality in Taiwan
Arzoo Osanloo Associate Professor, Law, Societies, and Justice Program, University of Washington Subjecting the State to Seeing: Charity, Security, and the Dispossessed in Iran’s Theocratic Republic
Daromir Rudnyckyj Associate Professor, Department of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria Neoliberal Necropolitics: Risk, Self-Management and Governing through Death
Sarah Tobin POINT Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Area Studies, Freie Universität, Berlin Prophets and Profits: The Jordanian Government’s Strategies for Defining and Containing Risk in Volatile Times.

Sponsored by Paloheimo Foundation

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