The Use of Social Isolation (inqitā) by Jewish Women in Medieval Egypt

Oded Zinger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Petitions from the Cairo Geniza often emphasize that the petitioner is lonely or “cut off” (munqati) from social support. Such claims are gendered, as they are more common in women’s petitions than in men’s, and women occasionally use explicitly gendered expressions to highlight their social isolation. Claiming to lack social support had a special valency in medieval Islamicate societies due to the primacy of reciprocal social relationships in these societies. Since women’s access to cultural and social capital was more limited than men’s, women lacking effective and supportive male kin were particularly vulnerable and were recognized as deserving justice. Studying claims of social isolation thus sheds light on the social predicament of Jewish women in medieval Egypt. Finally, recognizing the currency of social isolation in women’s petition helps identify an opposite trend of social belonging in men’s petitions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)820-852
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020


  • Cairo Geniza
  • Jewish women
  • Medieval Egypt
  • Petitions
  • Social capital
  • Social isolation


Dive into the research topics of 'The Use of Social Isolation (inqitā) by Jewish Women in Medieval Egypt'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this