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Continuity and Transformation in Islamic Law

Ottoman History Podcast

Law is a powerful lens for the study of the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world. Bringing together diverse sources and new perspectives for legal history, this series explores law in and around the Ottoman Empire as a complex and capacious system underpinning the exercise of power inherent in all human relationships. Our presenters study the law to gain entry into the Ottoman household, exploring the relationships between husbands and wives, masters and slaves. Others use the legal system to understand the logic of the modernizing state, and the competing logics of its citizens, in shaping new forms of governance. Many of these podcasts explore the limits of Ottoman law, both externally at the borders of empire, and internally, at the margins of governable society. The underlying theme of this series is negotiation and compromise: between lawmakers and law-users, between theory and practice, between social body and individual experience. Individually and especially taken together, these podcasts take us far beyond the normative strictures of Shari’a to understand the role of law in diverse societies in the Ottoman Empire and beyond.
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Episode 345
with Will Hanleyhosted by Taylor M. Moore
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In this episode, Will Hanley transports us to the gritty, stranger-filled streets of the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, as we discuss his book, Identifying with Nationality: Europeans, Ottomans, and Egyptians in Alexandria. We explore how nationality—an abstract tool in the pages of international legal codes—became a new social and legal category that tangibly impacted the lives of natives and newcomers to Alexandria at the turn of the twentieth century. We consider how nationality brought together the previously impersonal, stranger networks using an array of paper technologies, vocabularies, and legal practices that forged bonds of affiliations between the individuals and groups that inhabited the city. Finally, we discuss how Egyptians and non-European foreigners, such as Algerians, Tunisians, and Maltese, benefited or were disenfranchised from a legal hierarchy that privileged white, male Europeans.
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with Aurelie Perrierhosted by Sam DolbeeThis episode is part of a series on Women, Gender, and Sex in Ottoman history
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The association of Algeria with sex figured prominently in the artwork and literature that was critiqued so famously by Edward Said in Orientalism. In this episode, Dr. Aurelie Perrier discusses the practical backdrop of this argument beyond the level of discourse by exploring illicit sex in 19th century Algeria under both Ottoman and French rule. Beginning with the fluid boundaries of Ottoman-administered sex work, she describes the transformations that accompanied French colonialism beginning in 1830. Contextualizing the sex trade in both eras with flows of labor migration, Perrier also illuminates the spatial dynamics of the French approach to prostitution, namely the birth of red-light districts and brothels. At once centralizing and segregating sex work, this new politics of space was intimately connected to the boundaries of race and class that were the premise of colonialism in the first place. Yet it appears in many cases these boundaries were transgressed, undermining the credibility of the colonial state. Moreover, even as the state claimed unprecedented control over the intimate lives of its citizens/subjects, people still managed to use the system for their own purposes, or evade it altogether. Still, the undeniable encroachment of the state left an indelible mark on Algeria's history with distinctly gendered implications.
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with Zoe Griffithhosted by Chris Gratien and Kalliopi Amygdalou
Inheritance and the transfer of property across generations connects the history of families to a broader analysis of political economy, particularly in societies where wealth and capital are deeply rooted in the earth. In this episode, Zoe Griffith provides a framework for the study of family history through the lens of the mulberry tree and its produce in a study of Ottoman court records from Tripoli (modern-day Lebanon).
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Zoe Griffith is a doctoral candidate at Brown University studying the early modern Mediterranean (see academia.edu)Chris Gratien is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University researching the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. (see academia.edu)Kalliopi Amygdalou is a doctoral candidate in the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College in London working on the relationship between national historiographies and the built environment in Greece and Turkey (see academia.edu)
Episode No. 130
Release date: 18 November 2013
Location: Kurtuluş, Istanbul
Editing and Production by Chris Gratien
Bibliography courtesy of Zoe Griffith
Citation: "Mulberry Fields Forever: Family, Property, and Inheritance in Ottoman Lebanon," Zoe Griffith, Chris Gratien, and Kalliopi Amygdalou, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 130 (November 18, 2013) http://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2011/11/ottoman-lebanon-property.html.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Abu Husayn, Abdul Rahim. Provincial Leaderships in Syria, 1575-1650. Beirut: American University in Beirut, 1985.
Cuno, Kenneth. The Pasha’s Peasants: land, society and economy in Lower Egypt, 1740-1858. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Doumani, Beshara. “Introduction.” In Beshara Doumani, ed. Family History in the Middle East: Household, Property, and Gender. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003: 1-19.
--- “Adjudicating Family: The Islamic Court and Disputes between Kin in Greater Syria, 1700-1860.” In Beshara Doumani, Family History in the Middle East: Household, Property, and Gender. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003: 173-200.
Ergene, Boğaç. Local Court, Provincial Society, and Justice in the Ottoman Empire: legal practice and dispute resolution in Çankırı and Kastamonu (1652-1744). Leiden: Brill, 2003.
Fay, Mary Ann. “Women and Waqf: toward a reconsideration of women’s place in the Mamluk household.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 29 (1997): 33-51.
Ferguson, Heather. “Property, Language, and Law: Conventions of Social Discourse in Seventeenth-Century Tarablus al-Sham.” In Beshara Doumani, ed. Family History in the Middle East: Household, Property, and Gender. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003: 229-244.
‘Imad, ‘Abd al-Ghani. Mujtama’ Trablus fi zaman al-tahawwulat al-‘uthmaniya. Tripoli, Lebanon: Dar al-Insha’ lil’Sihafah wa’l-Tiba’ah wa’l-Nashr, 2002.
Imber, Colin. “The Status of Orchards and Fruit Trees in Ottoman Law.” Tarih Enstitüsü Dergisi, 12 (1981-82): 763-774.
Mundy, Martha and Richard Saumarez-Smith. Governing Property, Making the Modern State: law, administration, and production in Ottoman Syria. London: I.B. Taurus, 2007.
Tezcan, Baki. The Second Ottoman Empire: political and social transformations in the early modern world. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Music: Wadi al-Safi - Ya al-Tut al-Shami
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with Julie Stephens
hosted by Chris Gratien and Tyler ConklinDownload the podcastFeed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud
During the 1920s, a publisher in Lahore published a satire on the domestic life of the Prophet Muhammad during a period of religious polemics and communal tension between Muslims and Hindus under British rule. The inflammatory text soon became a legal matter, first when the publisher was brought to trial and acquitted for "attempts to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes" and again when he was murdered a few years later in retaliation for the publication. In this episode, Julie Stephens explores how this case highlights debates over the meaning of religious and political liberties, secularism, and legal transformation during British colonial rule in South Asia. In doing so, she challenges the binary juxtaposition between secular reason and religious sentiment, instead pointing to their mutual entanglement in histories of law and empire.
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with Elyse Semerdjian
hosted by Chris GratienDownload the podcastFeed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud
The changing of one's religion may be viewed today as a matter of personal spirituality or identity, but as the historiography of the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere increasingly shows, conversion was often a public act with political, socioeconomic, and gendered components. In this episode, Elyse Semerdjian returns to the podcast to discuss her research on conversion in early modern Aleppo and how women sometimes utilized the act of conversion (or non-conversion) and the legal structures of the Ottoman Empire to gain the upper hand in familial and economic matters.« Click for More »
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with Omar Cheta
hosted by Zoe GriffithDownload the podcastFeed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud
The Capitulations are regarded as one of the most obvious and humiliating signs of European dominance over Ottoman markets and diplomatic relations in the 19th century, granting European merchants and their Ottoman protégés extensive extraterritorial privileges within the empire. In this podcast, Professor Omar Cheta probes the limits of the Capitulations in the Ottoman province of Egypt, where the power of the local Khedives intersected and overlapped with the sovereignty of the sultan and the capitulatory authority of the British consulate. Commercial disputes involving European merchants and their protected agents on Ottoman-Egyptian soil reveal the ambiguous and negotiable nature of jurisdiction and legal identities in the mid-19th century. These ambiguous boundaries provided spaces for merchants and officials to contest the terms of extraterritorial privileges. The creation of new legal forums such as the mixed Merchants' Courts gave rise to new norms and procedures, while reliance on Shari'a traditions continued to appear in unexpected places. « Click for More »
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with Cengiz Kırlı hosted by Chris Gratien Within Anglophone historiography, the Tanzimat period is conventionally represented as an era of centralizing reforms emanating from the imperial center that represent a trend often labeled as "modernization" or "Westernization." Less attention has been given to what these administrative changes meant in practice and how they were carried out in the different provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In this episode, Cengiz Kırlı discusses his work on various facets of the Tanzimat and its implementation, offering a preview of his new Turkish-language monograph on the "invention of corruption" in the Ottoman Empire and examining the interplay of local and imperial power during an the early Tanzimat period in the Balkans.with Cengiz Kırlıhosted by Chris Gratien
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Within Anglophone historiography, the Tanzimat period is conventionally represented as an era of centralizing reforms emanating from the imperial center that represent a trend often labeled as "modernization" or "Westernization." Less attention has been given to what these administrative changes meant in practice and how they were carried out in the different provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In this episode, Cengiz Kırlı discusses his work on various facets of the Tanzimat and its implementation, offering a preview of his new Turkish-language monograph on the "invention of corruption" in the Ottoman Empire and examining the interplay of local and imperial power during an the early Tanzimat period in the Balkans. (This podcast refers to visuals available below)
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with Samy Ayoub
hosted by Hadi Hosainy and Christopher Rose
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Podcast Feed | iTunes | Soundcloud Much of the scholarship on the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, which had its roots in the sociopolitical context of the 8th century Iraq, focuses on the early centuries of that school's development. Meanwhile, recent scholarship on the later periods emphasizes the transformations within the Hanafi jurisprudence in the early modern and modern periods, particularly as a result of the increasing role of the Ottoman state in the process of lawmaking. Dr. Samy Ayoub presents a different approach on Ottoman Hanafi jurists, who maintained the integrity of the legal discourse while recognizing the needs of the times. In this episode, Dr. Ayoub shares some of his reseach on the question of continuity and change under the self-desctibed “late-Hanafis” from the 16th century until the making of mecelle, the first attempt at codifying Islamic law, during the late 19th century.
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Episode 430
with Nurfadzilah Yahayahosted by Chris Gratien
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During the 19th century, Southeast Asia came under British and Dutch colonial rule. Yet despite the imposition of foreign institutions and legal codes, Islamic law remained an important part of daily life. In fact, as our guest Fadzilah Yahaya argues, Islamic law in the region underwent significant transformation as a result of British and Dutch policies. But rather than merely a top-down transformation, Yahaya highlights the role of the small and largely mercantile Arab diaspora as a major factor in European policy towards Islamic law in Southeast Asia. In our conversation, we discuss Islamic law and the Arab diaspora in Southeast Asia during the colonial period as well as some of the more unusual court cases arising from this period and the implications of this history for Southeast Asia today.
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