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"This collection of essays is most welcome. The main articles of Marian Małowist are collected together (and in many cases translated into English) for the first time. Małowist, who is one of the major economic historians of the twentieth century, is also a much neglected one. Of the eighteen articles here, only five were published in English-language journals that are widely read by historians and social scientists, and even these journals are primarily read by economic historians. So most scholars have been missing out on one of the most fertile and cultivated minds who have written on the central issue of our times - the wide and widening gulf between the core and the periphery, the North and the South, western and eastern Europe" (Immanuel Wallerstein).


From the seventh to the fourteenth century, the Muslim world’s key actors were free peasants working limited and scattered cultivated areas, whose communities paid heavy taxes. A distinct nomadic mode of production dominated the arid lands and their warlike pastoral tribes. Wealthy merchants and artisans controlled urban ideological production, living next to actual ruling classes, who drew exceptional material privileges from their proximity to the state. Since the latter’s status contradicted the contractual community’s values, political power was socially alienated and needed support from paid soldiers and often co-opted religious notables. The author describes Islamic social formations as real flesh-and-blood beings who developed original features on the same tributary mode of production’s skeleton. He shows that comparable dialectical oppositions enlivened them, stemming from uneven and combined development processes. Thus, their states and villages, barren lands and city markets, contractual ideology and monarchical powers were permanently in conflictual interaction.

In: Historical Materialism