This article explores Malaysia’s bid to become the world leader in rapidly expanding halal (literally, “lawful” or “permitted”) markets on a global scale through the embedding of a particular global Islamic imagination. The Malaysian state has become central to the certification, standardization, and bureaucratization of Malaysian halal production, trade, and consumption. The vision is now to export this model, and for that purpose the network as a strategic metaphor is being evoked to signify connectedness and prescriptions of organization visà- vis more deep-rooted networks. I argue that an imagined global halal network conditions the halal commodity form. This imagination is at least as important as halal commodities themselves for the emergence of a novel form of globalized halal capitalism.
Imagining global halal markets
Between Religion, Regulation, and Globalization
The Hebrew term ‘kosher’ means ‘fit’ or ‘proper’ and signifies foods conforming to Jewish dietary law (kashrut). Kosher biotechnical production is subject to elaborate rules that have warranted regulation over the last two decades. This article shows how kosher regulation works in biotech production. I argue that while existing studies of kosher production and regulation have emerged mostly from within business studies and the food sciences, the broader institutional picture and the personal relationships between certifiers and businesses that frame these procedures are not yet well understood. Based on empirical research and interaction with biotech companies, I provide an ethnography of how transnational governmentality warrants a product as ‘kosher’ and thereby helps to format and standardize the market. This article builds mainly on fieldwork conducted at the world’s largest producer of enzymes, Novozymes, based in Denmark, which is certified by the leading global kosher certifier, the Orthodox Union.