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American Studies Encounters the Middle East$
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Alex Lubin and Marwan M. Kraidy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469628844

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469628844.001.0001

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Diabolical Enterprises and Abominable Superstitions

Diabolical Enterprises and Abominable Superstitions

Islam and the Conceptualization of Finance in Early American Literature

(p.31) Diabolical Enterprises and Abominable Superstitions
American Studies Encounters the Middle East

Adam John Waterman

University of North Carolina Press

This essay explores the representation of Islam in early American literature. While many scholars have read the Islamicate presence in early American fiction as indexing an Orientalist sensibility coextensive with twentieth and twenty-first century manifestations of American Islamophobia, this essay situates that presence in relation to late eighteenth and early nineteenth century crises over liberal modes of political affiliation and socioeconomic value. Understanding finance as a speculative mode of accumulation fully consonant with—if not expressive of—the liberalism of the newly independent United States, it reads the figural Muslim as a synecdoche for anxieties over both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary currents in early American society, including those related to the rise of central banking as a means of consolidating class and political power within the federal system.

Keywords:   finance, Islamicism, Orientalism, early American literature

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