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A paper economy of faith without faith in paper: A reflection on Islamic institutional history

  • Lydon, Ghislaine
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    This article contributes to the literature on Islamic institutional history by examining how the discounting of documents in Islamic legal practice constrained the organization of early modern Muslim trade. It is argued that the reliance on literacy, on the one hand, and an Islamic legal framework, on the other, gave early modern Muslim traders a comparative advantage in economic organization, but the lack of faith in paper as documentary evidence in Islamic law posed fundamental constraints to the development of Muslim economies.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

    Volume (Year): 71 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 647-659

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:3:p:647-659
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    1. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2004. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions or Minorities?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4604, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Timur Kuran, 2004. "Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 71-90, Summer.
    3. Kuran, Timur, 2003. "The Islamic Commercial Crisis: Institutional Roots of Economic Underdevelopment in the Middle East," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 414-446, June.
    4. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
    5. Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2006. "Path Dependence and Occupations," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series DP-154, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    6. Edwards, J. & Ogilvie, S., 2009. "Contract Enforcement, Institutions and Social Capital: the Maghribi Traders Reappraised," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0928, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Kuran, Timur, 1995. "Further reflections on the behavioral norms of Islamic economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 159-163, June.
    8. Kuran, Timur, 2005. "The logic of financial westernization in the Middle East," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 593-615, April.
    9. Timur Kuran, 1997. "Islam and Underdevelopment: An Old Puzzle Revisited," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 41-, March.
    10. Greif, Avner, 2000. "The fundamental problem of exchange: A research agenda in Historical Institutional Analysis," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(03), pages 251-284, December.
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