Peasants, Merchants, and Caliphs: Capital and Empire in Fatimid Egypt, 900-1200 CE


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




“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 tenth and twelfth centuries, at a time when the country was a key node of the Afroeurasian world system. Through an analysis of agrarian property relations, manufacture, fiscal regimes, and trade networks, this project uncovers the antagonistic symbiosis of two different value circulation circuits: commercial capital and monetized taxation. This symbiosis operated both at the structural level, in the interplay of taxation and commerce, and at the level of individual actors through partnership, investment, and lending. By describing a distinctive form of capital formation predicated on a distinctive form of state domination, this dissertation recasts the longue durée history of capital accumulation in noncapitalist, extra-European societies.