Kahn Lecture 

October 12, 2017
Stahr Auditorium, Stager Hall

Do Not Tamper With the Clues: Notes on Goldman Sachs

This talk will consider The Goldman Sachs Group as a case for students of religion. Common sense may suggest that there is no organization perhaps less religious than Goldman Sachs, described variously by its critics in recent years as a demon, a snake pit, and a vampire squid attacking American finance, the investing public, and the good of global humanity. Yet the labeling of any agency as such a scourge ought immediately tempt the scholar of religion, since one of the grounding assumptions of our work has been that the demarcation of the profane is intimately tied to the elucidation of the sacred. To that end, I expose the connections between the history and practices of this multinational investment banking firm to accounts of religious thought and practice in the modern period. Such an argument does not seek to justify denoting Goldman Sachs as a Section 501(c)(3) organization. Rather, it seeks to ask again what we are trying to describe, and what we are trying to recommend, when we examine and diagnose the religious in an era profoundly shaped by knowledge management, finance capitalism, and corporatism.