Valentino Cattelan (Madrid/Bonn): From the Island of Stone Money to the Archipelago of Islamic Finance. Reading Mangan's Limits to Growth as an Exploration into Law, Economy and Cultures


This lecture undertakes a voyage into law, economy and cultures by using the arts and humanities as heuristic vehicle and the ‘pure energy’ of money (Simmel) as fuel to cross intra- and inter-social boundaries.

More in detail, this journey is divided into three main parts.

To start, Part I explores Western intra-social borders by entering the ‘theatre of modernity’ as the meta-language underpinning the dichotomy with the East (Said) and the theatrum mundi of capitalism as a Western space where “all are ‘brothers’ in being equally others” (Nelson). Within this frame, Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice will be featured to contribute to the explanation. 

After experiencing Hamlet’s ‘play within the play’ (ultimate affirmation of the ‘self’, self-reflective agency and vehicle of intermedial and intercultural transformation: Fischer & Greiner), a visit to Mangan’s Limits to Growth will represent the transcultural core of the trip (Part II). Mangan’s artwork, as we will see, gives rise to a complex interaction between matter and energy – materials and labor – through a generative project that reformulates the value of money in time, space and cultures. For this purpose, his installation consumes the ‘wealth’ produced by a bitcoin mining ring to print large-format photographs of rai stone, the ancient currency of the island of Yap; accordingly, the representation of others’ value(-s) is reformulated from one exchange medium to another, while alluding to the necessity of circulation in any currency. This transformative process will later be applied to interpret Islamic finance as an archipelago of meaning: Here, monetary (religious?) value, although originally carved via (closed) criteria of shari‘ah compliance, is converted to the (open) market through state-law mechanisms, practices of standardization, and secularisation (while secular (?) money is converted to shari‘ah compliance as well) in a trans-social space characterized by the inescapable effects of cross-cultural hybridization.

Through Mangan’s Limits to Growth, Part III, in a circular itinerary, will lastly draw some conclusions on the nature of money as an ‘absolute symbol’ (again, Simmel) and the diverse ‘value within the value’ that can exist in an archipelago where sailors (either ‘merchants of Venice’ or ‘merchants of Mecca’) navigate strong winds of cross-cultural interaction. In particular, by paraphrasing Messick’s ‘calligraphic state’, the canon of shari‘ah compliance entextualized in Islamic finance will be critically interpreted as conducive to a ‘typewritten market’ where (abstract) securitization de facto replaces (actual) socio-economic relations.

Dr. Valentino Cattelan

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Valentino Cattelan ist Rechtswissenschaftler. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte sind die Vergleichenden Rechtswissenschaften, das Islamische Recht sowie die Wirtschafts- und Finanzwissenschaften. Seit 2016 ist Valentino Cattelan als Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Saudi-Spanish Center for Islamic Economics and Finance (SCIEF), IE Business School (Madrid) tätig. Zuvor hatte Valentino Cattelan Lehr- und Forschungsaufträge an der Universität Rom Tor Vergata (2010 bis 2013), dem Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (2013 bis 2014) sowie der Universiät Florenz (2014 bis 2015) inne. Im Jahr 2017 war er Senior Research Fellow am Max-Planck-Institut for Social Anthropology (Department of Law & Anthropology) in Halle. Des Weiteren ist er seit 2017 Teaching Fellow für das Graduiertenprogramm der Islam- und Geisteswissenschaften (Modul „Islamic Law, Ethics and Society“) des Instituts of Ismaili Studies in London.

Dr. Valentino Cattelan studierte an der School of Law der Universität Rom Tor Vergata, wo er jeweils einen Abschluss der Rechtswissenschaften (LL.B. + LL.M) sowie der Vergleichenden Rechtwissenschaften (LL.M) erhielt. Im Jahr 2009 erlangte er den Doktorgrad in Recht und Wirtschaft mit einer Arbeit zum Thema „Babel, Islamic Contract Law and Derivatives. How to Structure Shari‘ah-Compliant Financial Options“ von der Universität Sienna. Während des Promotionsstudiums war Valentino Cattelan Gastwissenschaftler an der School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) der Universität London.

Valentino Cattelan hat zahlreiche Zeitschriftenartikel und Buchbeiträge zur islamischen Jurisprudenz, zum islamischen Finanzrecht, zum islamischen Eigentumsrecht sowie zur Erkenntnistheorie der islamischen Wirtschaft publiziert. Darüber hinaus ist er Herausgeber der Werke „Islamic Finance in Europe: Towards a Plural Financial System” (Edward Elgar, 2013) und “Islamic Social Finance: Entrepreneurship, Cooperation and the Sharing Economy” (Routledge, im Erscheinen 2018).

Seit April 2018 ist Dr. Valentino Cattelan Fellow am Käte Hamburger Kolleg „Recht als Kultur“ in Bonn.