Dr Lorenzo Bondioli
I am a social and economic historian of the premodern Middle East. My research investigates the political economy of medieval Islamic empires, focusing in particular on two aspects: the antagonistic symbiosis between the merchant and ruling classes, and the ever-embattled entanglement of subaltern and elite groups.
My recently submitted dissertation, soon to be turned into a monograph, sheds light on the complex interplay of two antithetical yet codependent modes of value circulation: state-extracted tax and merchant-accumulated capital. I show how a specifically capitalist logic could operate in the context of a non-capitalist society such as Egypt in the Fatimid era, and what the implications of this apparent contradiction are not just for the history of medieval Egypt, but also for that of capitalism at large.
The extraordinary documents of the Cairo Geniza, a documentary repository of unparalleled value for the social and economic history of medieval Islamic societies, form the bedrock of my research. As a member of the Princeton Geniza Lab, I am committed to the digitalization and diffusion of these documents among and beyond the international scholarly community.
I mainly grew up in Rome, Italy, apart from a few childhood years spent in Alexandria, Egypt. I obtained my BA from Sapienza University; I then moved to Oxford for an MPhil, and from there to Princeton, where I earned my PhD. After holding a postdoc at Columbia University, I returned to the United Kingdom for a research fellowship at Peterhouse College.
“The Sicilian Tithe Business: State and Merchants in the Eleventh-Century Islamic Mediterranean,” Medieval Worlds 14 (2021).
“The Typology of the Fatimid Capitation Tax Receipts,” with Stephanie Luescher, Marina Rustow and Naïm Vanthieghem, in Ursula Bsees (ed.), Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Layout and Structure of Arabic Documents (forthcoming).
“Late Antiquity and Capitalism, between Theory and History: Reflections on Jairus Banaji’s A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism” (in Italian: “Tardoantico e capitalismo, tra teoria e storia. Riflessioni su A Brief History di Jairus Banaji”), Oriente/Occidente. Rivista internazionale di studi tardoantichi 2 (2021).
“Islamic Legal Attitudes to Trade with the Dār al-Ḥarb (2nd-6th centuries AH/8th-12th centuries CE),” in Aly Ahmed Elsayed, Abdallah Abdel-Ati Al-Naggar, and Ahmed Mohamed Sheir (eds.), Studies in Peace-Building History between East and West through the Middle Ages and Modern Era (Sanābil lil-kuttāb: Cairo, 2019), pp. 31–54.
“Islamic Bari between the Aghlabids and the Two Empires,” in Glaire D. Anderson, Corisande Fenwick, and Mariam Rosser-Owen (eds.), The Aghlabids and their Neighbors: Art and Material Culture in Ninth-Century North Africa (Brill: Leiden & Boston, 2018), pp. 470–90.
Flax, tax and trade hacks, with Lorenzo Bondioli, Genizah Fragments
The Lost Archive: An Interview with Marina Rustow, Borderlines