Setting 'other' standards: on the role, power and spatialities of interlocking Shari'a boards in Islamic financial services
Faculty of Applied Economics
Loughborough :Loughborough University, Department of Geography, Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network, 2009
GaWC research bulletin ; 309
This paper aims to refine earlier research on the geographies of Islamic financial services (IFS) through a study of how cities are being connected through interlocking directorates in Sharia advisory boards of IFS firms. The relevance of this analysis is discussed against the backdrop of recent critiques on mainstream research on world cities and international financial centers because of structuralist and universalizing tendencies. Using John Allens concept of networked power, we explore the nested city/firm/actor structure behind Sharia board membership, and reassess the connectivity of cities in the IFS network in terms of the role, power and spatialities of interlocking Sharia boards. The results suggest that networked power in IFS networks is very much concentrated in a few powerhouses, most notably Manama, but also in mainstay financial centers within and outside the Middle East, such as London, Dubai, Kuwait City and New York. The dominant position of Manama is traced back to its role as a standard-setting city for Sharia-compliant investments, which materializes through the enacted presence of an array of highly interlocked regulatory bodies and mediating elites.