Continuity and Transformation in Islamic Law

curated by Zoe Griffith and Hadi Hosainy

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Series Overview

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.

Currently our series contains 15 podcast episodes featuring 25 contributors available for play or download through our podcast feeds. Let us know what you'd like to hear next!

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by Zoe Griffith and Hadi Hosainy

We can think of the law as a sort of vital organ regulating the core of the social body and driving human relationships––between husbands and wives, parents and children, laborers and employers; between the individual and the state, between the state and communities under its rule. Like the reach of law itself, the rise of legal history in recent decades has left few corners of Ottoman history and other Islamic societies untouched. As we examine sources of law and authority in the Ottoman Empire, and the diverse ways that law is practiced on the ground, we are asking fundamental questions about power and resistance across space and time. Social history, urban history, gender and family history, political economy and the history of the state and governance can all benefit from asking certain questions: What were the ideals of justice in the Ottoman lands? Whose interests did such ideals serve? What legal instruments and strategies were available to whom? How did the law reinforce or upend dynamics of power based in gender, property, class, and sect? What drives change in these institutions and beliefs, and how did these changes reconfigure life for Ottoman subjects and citizens? (click for more)

Law and Empire
The Politics of Jurisdiction

Law and Society new release
Between adjudication and governance

Law and Order
Crime and Punishment in the Ottoman World

Law and Property
Islamic Law and Ottoman Households

Law and Commerce
New Perspectives on Commercial Law and Diplomacy

Nineteenth-Century Transformations
Islamic Law, Secularization, and Legal Pluralism



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