precapitalist economy is not a well-defined term. It refers to that period that preceded capitalism, but it does not describe any particular form of economy. . . . Precapitalism . . . is associated with numerous forms and practices that coexisted with and that were subsequently more or less taken over by capitalism. Whereas one of the features of modern industrial capitalism was its tendency to encroach on other modes and to make them disappear or disintegrate, precapitalist formations did not have this feature. . . . In many parts of the world in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, different economic modes coexisted, and there were different forms of capitalist practices. . . . [thus] prior to incorporation [into modern industrial capitalism], regions such as Egypt that eventually became part of the capitalist world system had rich and complex economic histories and societies. Incorporation did not take place in a vacuum”—Nelly Hanna, Artisan Entrepreneurs: In Cairo and Early-modern Capitalism (1600–1800), p. 8.
“A dominant trend in scholarship has tended to associate modernity with reforming rulers, colonialist policies, or Europeanized elites in the nineteenth century. I attempt to find some answers to this question [of Egypt’s passage to modernity] by looking both back in time to the eighteenth century and earlier and lower down in the social strata to artisans involved in production. I do not give artisans the exclusive role or exclude any other group from this process. The members of the military ruling class and merchants were important actors in some of the transformations of the period. Rather, I ask where artisans should be placed in this process. . . . One needs to look for the impact from below from social forces that may have either helped to bring about some of these changes or influenced the direction that they took.”—Nelly Hanna, Artisan Entrepreneurs: In Cairo and Early-modern Capitalism (1600–1800), p. 4, emphasis added.
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