Law in action in the colonial Middle East:
A site of struggle and negotiation between collaboration and resistance (1882-1948)
Whereas the theme of "law and colonialism" has been quite widely studied by scholars of Asia and Africa since the 1980s (Hay & Wright 1982, Chanock 1985, Falk Moore 1986, Snyder & Hay 1987, Vincent 1988, Cohn 1989, Mann & Roberts 1991, Mommsen & de Moor 1992, Jeater 2007), it has received up to now little research attention on the part of the specialists of the Middle East (Eisenman 1978, Mitchell 1988, Brown 1990, 1995, 1997, Fahmy 1999, Strawson 2003, Ruiz 2004 [to be published], Esmeir 2005 [to be published], Likhovski 2006, Hanley 2007 [to be published]). This panel proposes to contribute to fill this gap of knowledge in the history of the region, by further investigating the avenues of research opened by the pioneering studies on the topic written on India and Sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the papers presented in this panel will not approach law in the colonial Middle East from a theoretical perspective - which would highlight the pluralistic nature of the colonial legal system or the "reinvention" of native law and custom on the basis of textual evidence - , but rather from a more empirical perspective, as a site of struggle and negotiation of the "colonial situation" among law-makers, law-practitioners and law-breakers, foreigners and locals, at various levels of society (Balandier 1951).
With this general definition in mind, special attention will be given to the practices and interactions of these different actors, and more specifically to the complex dialectics of collaboration and resistance that took place among them on three distinct but related "scenes": in and around the ministries of justice, in and around the
parliaments, and most importantly within the multiple courtrooms that were used during this period (consular, mixed, shari'a, and national courts, and special or military
Focusing on these three scenes, the papers will explore the dynamics of struggle and negotiation over the intimately related concepts of property and prosperity, authority and power, and morality and honour, as well as over the processes of identity formation.
Interested participants should send their abstract (no more than 300 words) by Dec. 10th 2009 to Anne Clément (Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Toronto) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Papers dealing with the cases of Mandate Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon will be particularly welcomed, as will be papers adopting a comparative approach.
CEDEJ Research Associate
Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
University of Toronto
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