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

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  • Lydon, Ghislaine

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lydon, Ghislaine, 2009. "A paper economy of faith without faith in paper: A reflection on Islamic institutional history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 647-659, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:3:p:647-659
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Jeremy Edwards & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2012. "Contract enforcement, institutions, and social capital: the Maghribi traders reappraised," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(2), pages 421-444, May.
    3. Timur Kuran, 1997. "Islam and Underdevelopment: An Old Puzzle Revisited," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 1-41, March.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2005. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 922-948, December.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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 912-950, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Metin Cosgel, 2012. "The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History," Working papers 2012-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

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