Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Archaeology, Leiden University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Stanford University
Producing Market and Muslims: Religious Change and Commercial Culture in Early Islamic Syria-Palestine

This project examines the relationship between religion and market through a study of ‘Muslim-Christian market interaction’. While early conversion to Islam is often seen as involuntary and the result of Islamic ‘military conquest’, I explore how interaction between different religious groups in the market produces early Muslim identities. In a diachronic study of religious change at Jarash city in early Islamic Syria-Palestine (600-900 CE), I will answer the following question: As part of a new social movement, how did Muslims in Jarash employ the productive tensions between market and religion to negotiate their place and establish themselves as an urban community? How does the market enable commercial products and practices to acquire social and religious meaning? Notably, in early Islamic Jarash—a city with no less than 14 churches—a congregational mosque is built, the urban marketplace expands, and new religious features and text emerge in a changing commercial culture with early Muslim attributes. I will investigate Christian and Muslim influence in three fields of the market at Jarash: production, commercial culture, and consumerism. I will study change in use of Christian and Muslim text and representation in commercial practice and products, and religious affiliation in the urban organization of production, commerce and households. By drawing links between these components of the market, my project addresses the multi-scalar interaction of market and religion. I will demonstrate interaction and exchange between different religious groups in the market and illuminate how this enabled Islam to prosper as a new urban social movement. This detailed archaeological study of market and interreligious dialogue at Jarash is informed more broadly by written sources relating to trade, introduction of credit systems, the early Islamic state, and evidence from nearby market towns.