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Morality of Markets: How Radical Religious Communities Approach Labor, Subsistence, and Authority

Presenters Name: 
Isabella Hall
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Andrew Lynn
Secondary Research Mentor: 
10:30 -10:45
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 10:30am to 10:45am
Room 389
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

There are a number of recent developments within the United States’ public discourse which make the intersection of religion, economics, and radical politics an especially interesting and invaluable area of study. One such development are the ever-increasing challenges presented by late capitalism--historically unpresented heights of income inequality and a crisis of meaning regarding work. Another development is the continual religious vitality not only of the American population, but in the public square and American politics—a phenomenon which defies all number of theories of “secularization” and the decline of religion in the face of societal modernization. As a mode of engagement with the topics outlined above, this project provides an exploration of “alternative economic systems” as modelled by various monastic and experimental Christian communities across the 20th century in the United States. With a specific attention toward discourses around labor, subsistence, and authority, this project presents a systematic analysis of how several religious communities acted as sites of resistance to the broader market and governing structures to which they were subject. The cases which provide the framework for my analysis include: Thomas Merton and the Abbey of Gethsemani, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement, and Clarence Jordan & Koinona Farm. Each of these communities exemplify a unique set of religious and social commitments which illuminate fascinating insights into religious communities’ potential to act as agents of social reform as well as critics of existing economic systems.