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  Timur Kuran, Affliated Faculty
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  Timur KuranThe Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies and Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies and Professor of Political Science

Office Location:  Department of Economics, Box 90097, 213 Chapel Drive, Duke University, Durham, N
Office Phone:  (919) 660-1800
Email Address:  send me a message
Web Page:


  • Ph.D. Stanford University 1982
  • M.A. Stanford University 1979


Economic History
Comparative Politics
Development Economics
Political Economy
Law and Economics
Political Institutions
Research Interests:

Timur Kuran is Professor of Economics and Political Science, and Gorter Family Professor in Islam and the Social Sciences at Duke University. His teaching and research draw on multiple disciplines, including economics, political science, history, and legal studies. He has written extensively on the evolution of preferences and institutions, with contributions to the study of hidden preferences, the unpredictability of social revolutions, the dynamics of ethnic conflict, perceptions of discrimination, and the evolution of morality. His best known theoretical work is Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (Harvard University Press), which deals with the repercussions of being dishonest about what one knows and wants. Since its original publication in 1995, this book has appeared also in German, Swedish, Turkish, and Chinese. Kuran has also written on Islam and the Middle East, with an initial focus on contemporary attempts to restructure economies according to Islamic teachings. Several of his essays on this topic are included in Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism (Princeton University Press). Since the mid-1990s he has turned his attention to the conundrum of why the Middle East, which once had a high standard of living by global standards, subsequently fell behind in various realms, including economic production, organizational capability, technological creativity, democratization, and military strength. He is at work on books and articles on this general subject. His thesis is that the economic and educational institutions of Islam, though well-suited to the era in which they emerged, were poorly suited to a dynamic industrial economy. These institutions fostered social equilibria that reduced the likelihood of modern capitalism emerging from within Islamic civilization. His recent papers have identified obstacles involving inheritance practices, contract law, procedures of the courts, the absence of corporations, the financial system, and the delivery of social services. Since 1990 Kuran has been the founding editor of an interdisciplinary book series published by the University of Michigan Press. He has served, or currently serves, on the editorial or advisory boards of numerous scholarly journals. He taught at University of Southern California from 1982 to 2007, holding the King Faisal chair in Islamic Thought and Culture from 1993 onward. Since 2005, he has been Director of USC's Institute for Economic Research on Civilizations. In 1989-90 he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; in 1996-97 he held the John Olin Visiting professorship at the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago; and in 2004-05 he was Visiting Professor of Economics at Stanford University.

Curriculum Vitae
Representative Publications   (More Publications)
  1. Kuran, T; Singh, A. "Economic modernization in late British India: Hindu-Muslim differences." Economic Development and Cultural Change 61:3 (April, 2013): 503-538. [doi]  [abs]
  2. Kuran, T. "Explaining the economic trajectories of civilizations: The systemic approach." Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 71:3 (September, 2009): 593-605. [doi]  [abs]
  3. Kuran, T. "The political consequences of Islam’s economic legacy." Philosophy & Social Criticism 39:4-5 (May, 2013): 395-405. [Gateway.cgi], [doi]
  4. Kuran, T; Sandholm, WH. "Cultural integration and its discontents." Review of Economic Studies 75:1 (January, 2008): 201-228. [doi]  [abs]
  5. Kuran, T. "The absence of the corporation in Islamic law: Origins and persistence." The American Journal of Comparative Law 53:4 (January, 2005): 785-834. [repository], [doi]  [abs]
  6. Kuran, T. "The logic of financial westernization in the Middle East." Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 56:4 SPEC. ISS. (January, 2005): 593-615. [doi]  [abs]
  7. Timur Kuran. Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism.  Princeton University Press, 2004.
  8. Kuran, T. "The Islamic commercial crisis: Institutional roots of economic underdevelopment in the Middle East." Journal of Economic History 63:2 (June, 2003): 414-446. [repository], [doi]  [abs]
  9. Timur Kuran. Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification.  Harvard University Press, 1995.
  10. Kuran, T. The long divergence: How Islamic law held back the Middle East.  Princeton University Press, November, 2012: 1-405.  [abs]
  11. Timur Kuran. (Ed.) Mahkeme Kayıtları Işığında 17. Yüzyıl İstanbul’unda Sosyo-Ekonomik Yaşam / Social and Economic Life in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul: Glimpses from Court Records, Vols. 1-10.  Istanbul: İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları,, 2010-13.