The Middle East was a cradle of civilisation, and, during the Golden Age of Islam, it was arguably one of the world’s most dynamic centres of learning and civilization. In recent centuries, the West has surged ahead in income, technology, science, and governance. The Middle East is not alone in ‘falling behind,’ but it has not played a leading role in discussions of the Great Divergence. This session will explore that topic. The early dynamism of the region poses particular questions: Why did the political evolution of the Middle East differ from Europe’s and did those differences affect economic performance? Was Islam ‘growth promoting’ during the eighth and ninth centuries, and did it become ‘growth retarding’ later, and, if so, why? What was the impact of the region’s location and its arid geography on economic development? How did changes in transportation, trade routes, and imperialism affect the region? Could different state policies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have closed the gap with the West, and, if so, why were they not pursued? This session will explore these and similar questions.
Paper proposals are welcome from scholars around the world. The panel hopes in particular to build bridges between scholars in the Middle East and other regions. Please submit proposals and a curriculum vitae to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for submissions is January 31, 2018.
Robert C. Allen, New York University Abu Dhabi
Eric Chaney, Harvard University
Sevket Pamuk, Bogazici University
Maya Shatzmiller, University of Western Ontario