Christian-Jewish and Muslim-Christian-Jewish Relations in the Fields of Finance and Economy (12th-16th century Europe)

The Importance of a Comparative Dimension
Over the last century, one of the main problems in the field of Middle Eastern Studies has been a lack of comparative approaches. Research and teaching on the description and analysis of developments in the Middle East (religious, legal, economic and social) have not sufficiently taken into consideration the development in analogous fields in different cultures and societies.  The neglect of a systematically comparative dimension has been rightly criticized as one of the main weaknesses of Middle Eastern Studies.

This workshop on Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations in the fields of economy and finance will treat the change in Christian and Jewish financial practices and concepts during the transition from the European High Middle Ages to the Renaissance.  It will also discuss Muslim concepts of the differences between political, economic and social integration of non-Muslim religious communities in Muslim empires and the role assigned to financial institutions. It will also try to reconstruct common references and a theoretical analysis of their differences.

The workshop will unite some of the leading specialists in the two fields. The program for the study of Christian-Jewish relations in the field of public and private finance has been written by Giacomo Todeschini (University of Trieste), an outstanding scholar in the field of Christian-Jewish relations in the field of finance.  Other leading scholars on Jewish financial and social history such as Joseph Shatzmiller (Duke University), Francesca Trivellato (Yale), Javier Castano (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid) will also present their work.  Among the specialists on Muslim finance, Abraham L. Udovitch (Princeton) has worked on Jewish financial practices and concepts in the Muslim world over the last twenty years.  The present director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and organizer of the workshop, Baber Johansen (Harvard), has done extensive work on the history of financial and economic contracts in the Muslim Law from the 11th to the 18th centuries.