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The Business of IdentityJews, Muslims, and Economic Life in Medieval Egypt$
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Phillip I. Ackerman-Lieberman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785471

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785471.001.0001

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Jewish, Islamic, or Mediterranean?

Jewish, Islamic, or Mediterranean?

Historiography and the Cairo Geniza

(p.1) One Jewish, Islamic, or Mediterranean?
The Business of Identity

Phillip I. Ackerman-Lieberman

Stanford University Press

The first chapter briefly discusses the historiography of mercantile cooperation of Jews in Islamic lands seen particularly through the documents of the Cairo Geniza. It then proceeds to show at greater length how a number of scholars, recently dubbed the “Princeton School,” have used detail from Geniza documents, which emerged from Jewish hands, to describe economic life in the medieval Islamic world as a whole. The chapter identifies the key assumption that has made it possible for these scholars to extrapolate from the Jewish Geniza documents to the Islamic world, namely that Jews and Muslims structured their mercantile arrangements in precisely the same manner. Finally, the chapter aims to reveal some of the motivating forces behind this assumption--specifically, its simplicity and utility, as well as its implication that economic life was not an area Jews might have used as a vehicle for the establishment and maintenance of communal boundaries.

Keywords:   S. D. Goitein, A. L. Udovitch, Cairo Geniza, commerce, historiography

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