1932

Abstract

This review examines state building in the Middle East from a long-term, historical perspective. The Middle East's early transition to settled agriculture meant the region was home to many of the most sophisticated and best-developed states in the ancient world. As Middle Eastern states emerged from Late Antiquity, their fiscal and bureaucratic capacity enabled institutional forms not possible in Europe, including reliance on slave soldiers for the state military elite as well as state control of land that could be distributed to state servants in the form of temporary, revocable land grants. Because a landed gentry did not emerge as an influence-wielding social class in the Middle East until a relatively late date, religious elites—who served as important providers of public goods as a result of their control of Islamic charitable foundations—became key intermediaries between state and society. Core features of the institutions of Islam's classical period largely persisted until the decline of the Ottoman Empire with implications for the nation-state forms to follow.

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2017-05-11
2024-06-19
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