Socioeconomic Inequality across Religious Groups in the Middle East



Mohamed Saleh, Toulouse School of Economics

Date and Time

April 17, 2018 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



RSVP required by 5PM April 16.


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


This event is co-sponsored with The Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.



This talk expounds a book project to study various questions related to the long-standing socioeconomic inequality across non-Muslims and Muslims in the Middle East. The book draws on novel primary data sources including medieval papyri, historical population censuses, and tax registers, in order to document the socioeconomic advantage of non-Muslim minorities in the region and how it evolved over time and varied across groups and territories. It then examines how inter-religion socioeconomic inequality was impacted by European influence and state-led development since 1800. Finally, it explores the historical roots of this inequality and the role of Islamic taxation in its emergence, and how the Islamic tax system itself evolved in response to it. Overall, the planned manuscript is part of a larger project that attempts to write a new evidence-based economic history of the region that draws on the digitization of various primary unexplored data sources at local and European archives, and that combines the quantitative approaches of the social sciences with the historical literature. In doing so, it builds on earlier work of pioneering economic historians of the region, while attempting to go beyond the conceptual and methodological divisions that separate economic historians from historians as well as those that separate nationalist from colonial narratives.


Mohamed Saleh is an Assistant Professor at Toulouse School of Economics and Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France. In 2017-2018, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Stanford University. His research interests are in economic history, empirical political economy, and development economics, with a focus on the economic history of the Middle East, and particularly Egypt. His research agenda focuses on understanding the historical origins of the socioeconomic differences between religious groups, the effects of state industrialization and public mass education on these differences, and the historical role of the Islamic tax system in the formation of religious groups. Another area of his research examines the long-term evolution of the institutions of labor coercion and land tenure in the Middle East. He approaches these questions using novel micro data sources constructed from archival and secondary data sources.

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