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Thinking of a Moral Economy with Ibn Khaldun

Lecture by Abdulkader Tayob (University of Cape Town)

EP Thompson argued that bread riots in eighteenth-century England were inspired by norms and obligations that contradicted an emerging capitalist market. He used the term moral economy to explain the actions and motivations of the rioters. The idea of a moral economy has gained some currency to reflect on how religious traditions inspire moral economies, but contemporary religious moral economies are not as extensively studied. Given this lacuna, the presentation deliberates on an Islamic moral economy through the work of Ibn Khaldun, the fourteenth-century historian and philosopher. It presents Ibn Khaldun’s analysis of the different ways in which individuals seek sustenance guided by practical but also moral and religious considerations. Ibn Khaldun’s reflection on ‘moral economy’ combines economic considerations that includes divine beneficence, rational reflection, human strategies and follies. While his work could not be used to understand contemporary moral economies, his reflections provide a different starting point for thinking of moral economies inspired by religious beliefs, practices, values and deliberation.

Prof. Abdulkader Tayob holds the chair in Islam, African Publics and Religious Values at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. In 2020, he was awarded with the Georg Forster Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation for which he had been nominated by ZMO.

The event will be held in a hybrid format. Please register here to participate via Zoom. For participation on site at ZMO, no registration is required.