Islam, Trade and City Growth before the 19th Century



Lisa Blaydes, Associate Professor of Political Science

Date and Time

December 7, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to Stanford faculty, students, staff, and visiting scholars.

RSVP required by 5PM December 06.


William J. Perry Conference Room, Encina Hall, 2nd Floor, 616 Serra St, Stanford, CA 94305


In the year 1200, many of the largest cities in Western Europe were inhabited by just tens of thousands of individuals while Middle Eastern and Central Asia cities had upwards to 100,000 residents each. By 1800, however, this pattern had reversed. This paper explores the importance of historical trade in explaining patterns of urban growth and decline in the run-up to the Industrial Revolution. To address the issue of the endogenous development of trade routes, the paper’s empirical analysis is focused on trade networks which connected historical cities located near natural harbors, maritime choke points and desert oases. These findings speak to why Middle Eastern and Central Asian cities – long beneficiaries of locational centrality between Europe and Asia – declined as Europeans found alternative routes to the East and opened new trade opportunities in the New World.


Speaker Bio:

Lisa Blaydes is an Associate Professor of Political Science. She is the author of Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Her articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, the Annual Review of Political Science, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Middle East Journal, and World Politics.