SOAS University of London

Economic integration and social change in the Islamic world system


The objective of the programme will be first to organise three conferences. The papers given during the conferences will be published in three volumes edited by Bessard and Kennedy. These volumes will represent the first time that a comprehensive account of the economy of the Islamic world in this key period has ever been attempted. They will be both clearly argued and source of reference to anyone working in the field.

A conference on The infrastructure of trade and transaction costs (2015) will discuss the exchange networks and practices in the Abbasid Middle East and Central Asia. This will highlight the progressive rupture of the past’s equilibrium from 750 and the emergence of new commercial horizons, as well as the structural role of Baghdad in this reconfiguration of distant trading and of the common modus operandi of merchants and financial circuits in early Islam. This conference will also investigate the infrastructure of trading networks (maintenance of roads and bridges, collection of dues on the movement of goods, regional variations in the taxation of trade, security of traders and caravans), as well as explore changes in the technology of transport.

A conference on Globalised demand and regional specialities (2016) will focus on the impact of the extension of trading networks on the local systems of production. This will explore the decline of the traditionnal modes of urban work, to the benefit of a production increasingly orientated towards profit and market economy. The phenomenon of technology transfer, as well as the effect of increasing standardisation of regional artisanal pratices in the context of a globalisation of the demand on the emergence of economic inter-dependencies in the early Islamic Middle East and Central Asia, will be explored.

A third conference on Economy and society in the early Abbasid caliphate (2017) will finally explore the enhanced role of the state in generating economic demand, as well as the changing social status of merchants and artisans.

If you would like to findo out more please contact Fanny Bessard and Hugh Kennedy

« Previous year | Show previous events for this year