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Authors: Bondioli, Lorenzo
Advisors: Rustow, Marina
Haldon, John
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Capitalism
Subjects: Middle Eastern history
Medieval history
Economic history
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The Fatimid Caliphate ruled over lands stretching from Sicily to Syria and projected its influence across the Indian Ocean as far as Sind. Its powerhouse was Egypt, among the most fertile and densely populated regions of the pre-industrial world, a country strategically positioned to take advantage of transit trade between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. The historical relevance of the simultaneous presence of an extensive empire, an exceptional agricultural output, large-scale manufacturing, and a global trade nexus is enhanced by the availability of the extraordinary documents of the Cairo Geniza and the papyrus and paper documents excavated in the Egyptian countryside, which together form the bedrock of this dissertation research. Drawing on these materials, “Peasants, Merchants, and Caliphs” destabilizes the narrative of capitalism as a distinctively European and modern phenomenon. It investigates the dynamic relationship between capital and tribute in the political economy of Egypt between the ninth and twelfth centuries, at a time when the region broke away from the Abbasid Caliphate, becoming its own imperial center after nine centuries of dependency as a province of other empires. Through an analysis of agrarian property relations, manufacture, fiscal regimes, and trade networks, this dissertation uncovers the antagonistic symbiosis of two different value circulation regimes: commercial capital and monetized taxation. This symbiosis operated both at the structural level, in the interplay of taxation and commerce, and at the personal level through investment, debt, and cooperation between officials and merchants. By describing a distinctive form of capital formation predicated on a distinctive form of state domination, this dissertation calls for a recasting of the longue durée history of capital accumulation in extra-European societies.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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