A Hard Row to Hoe: Landowning and Land Management in the Medieval Islamic World (622-1250 CE)

land management conference poster

This conference, to be held at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from the 12th to the 14th of December 2022, examines landownership and the organisation of agricultural production in the medieval Islamic world (ca. 622-1250 CE), from North Africa to Central Asia: the economic relationships between cultivators, landlords, and the state, and how these changed and varied over time and space.


We will address the following questions, in particular:

  • Where and to what extent can we speak of private landownership in the medieval Islamic world? Was land alienable and heritable, and were claims to ownership defendable at law? How can we explain where, when, and how private landownership emerges and recedes?
  • To what extent did landlords and the state involve themselves in agricultural production, and why? Were, say, large irrigation or drainage projects organised and financed by the government, or were such efforts and expenditures left to landlords? To what level of precision, and to what ends, did landlords monitor and direct cultivation on their estates?
  • What obligations did cultivators have to the state and their landlords — tax, rent, or otherwise? What factors led to these obligations intensifying or diminishing, or otherwise changing?

Through this conference, we seek to bring about communication and collaboration across traditional disciplinary boundaries (e.g., history, philology, Islamic Studies, and Iranian Studies) to enable viewing these questions in a transregional and comparative perspective. 

If you are interested in attending the conference, please use the registration box below to send us your details.

Conference details

  • Dr Arezou Azad (University of Oxford)
  • Dr Thomas Benfey (University of Oxford)
  • Prof Hugh Kennedy (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)
  • Dr Arezou Azad (University of Oxford)
  • Prof Gideon Avni (Israel Antiquities Authority and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • Dr Thomas Benfey (University of Oxford)
  • Prof Fanny Bessard (Trinity College, University of Oxford)
  • Dr Lorenzo Bondioli (Peterhouse College, University of Cambridge)
  • Prof Simone Cristoforetti (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
  • Dr Ofir Haim (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • Dr Reza Huseini (King’s College, University of Cambridge)
  • Prof Hugh Kennedy (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)
  • Prof Ahmad Khan (The American University in Cairo)
  • Prof Marie Legendre (University of Edinburgh)
  • Prof Christopher Melchert (Pembroke College, University of Oxford)
  • Ms Aseel Najib (Columbia University)
  • Mr Michael O'Neal (Independent Scholar)
  • Mr Matteo Sesana (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
  • Dr Hengameh Ziai (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)

Corpus Christi College, Merton Street, Oxford, OX1 4JF

Conference programme

Conference registration