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Samil Can

Samil can

Samil Can

Dissertation Writer
Research Interests: 
Debt, morality, finance, precarity, affect, neoliberalism, Islam, Sufism, South Asia, infrastructure, temporality, subjectivity, embodiment


My research is about loan-borrowing networks and debt-conflict resolution practices among precarious Muslim traders in Delhi. I found out that the traders were heavily invested in cultivating a virtuous, reserved, almost Stoic Sufi disposition of moral wisdom and entrepreneurial dexterity to discriminate among moral-Islamic limitations on trade, maintain fragile loan-networks, display credibility and “perform solvency.” They claimed that dexterously postponing debt-obligations relied on a moral pedagogy of Sufism-inspired, embodied fashioning of their selves with prudence and skills of honing perceptive abilities in order to “attune to,” and morally discriminate among, various opportunities (or risks) within the “secular” Delhi markets. Following recent anthropological insights on the ethical and moral frames of capitalism (Zaloom 2012, Ho 2012, Muehlebach 2012), I ask, what work does the moral celebration of this embodied form of entrepreneurial subjectivity among precarious Muslim Indians do, in the broader context of the neoliberal valorization of self-reliant labor that is tasked to cultivate its own skills, in order to survive precarization of work (Ferguson and Li 2018)? What moral assemblages of market behaviors and structures are generated among Islamic finance networks by this moralizing valorization of embodied self-reliance and self-cultivation? Given how numerous unrecognized precarious traders either fail to cultivate the skills associated with this moral disposition, or can only maintain it at great costs of devastating affective labor, how can anthropology engage with such moralizing iterations of precarious survival, without celebrating them as suffering-yet-succeeding subjects (Berlant 2011, Stewart 2012, Allison 2013, Robbins 2013, Muehlebach 2013, Han 2018), and highlight the work of economic imagination they generate (Appel 2014)?