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Foundations and cooperatives in the Ottoman World

In the second half of the 19th century, debates in the Ottoman world converged on two legal forms associated with ideas that they could shape society. These are, on the one hand, foundations according to Islamic law and, on the other hand, the newly emerging idea of cooperatives, which is strongly influenced by European models. In my presentation, I would like to discuss the question of why and in what forms the cooperative is becoming attractive in this period, while foundations are becoming more and more controversial. Therefore, I will look at the fundamental differences between the legal institutions and make a first attempt to relate the debates that are sparked by them.


Astrid Meier is Professor of Islamic Studies at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. From 2013 to 2018, she was Deputy Director of the Orient Institute Beirut. Her current research projects focus on the history of rural spaces and groups in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire and the environmental and social history of the Middle East. Another focus is the history of foundations in law and society, on which numerous publications have also appeared, among others with Mathieu Eychenne and Elodie Vigouroux, "Le waqf de la mosquée des Omeyyades de Damas: Le manuscrit ottoman d'un inventaire mamelouk établi en 816/1413 (Beirut/Damascus: Ifpo, 2018, PIFD 292); "Waqf as a Political Weapon: A legal confrontation between two Christian institutions in eighteenth-century Ottoman Damascus," Endowment Studies 4. 1-2, 2020, 92-124; and "Endowments for the Blind in Ottoman Damascus: Self-Interest and Altruism in Islamic Endowments," Historical Journal, Supplement 66, 2015, 95-122.


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