Closed markets? Creating communities, personalizing property in late ottoman Egypt

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History Department

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Research Article

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Quaderni Storici

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In this article, I propose to examine examples of property entering and exiting various circuits of exchange, and to trace the ways in which these trajectories created communities of owners and beneficiaries. In particular, I look at the impact of property's removal from the market and its incorporation into another circuit of exchange, as in the case of waqf, bequest, or individualized attribution. The possibility of isolating assets from the circuits of inheritance, on one hand, and market exchange, on the other, made certain objects of property immune to the possibility of anonymous sale and purchase. Because the fact of removing goods from the market to establish a waqf or make a bequest did not mean immobilizing them permanently, rights flowed around these goods, creating networks of exchange and shared entitlement. By focusing on the specific ways in which extracting property from the circuit of monetary transactions, and stripping it of its attributes as a commodity, created communities, it becomes possible to see how "non market " practices also perpetuated or accommodated the possibility of deferred, restricted, or renewed market relations.

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