Project

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The practice of Islamic Family Law in Palestine and Israel: Text and Context

Applicant Conte Édouard
Number 116415
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Sozialanthropologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.11.2007 - 31.01.2014
Approved amount 412'620.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Ethnology
Legal sciences

Keywords (5)

Islamic family law; Anthropology of law; History of law; Conflict resolution; Israel-Palestine

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
This project aims to compare through empirical enquiry the ways in which different codified texts of Islamic family law (IFL) are applied among the Palestinian Muslims resident in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Combining anthropological, legal and sociological approaches, it defines the shar‘î judiciary as a focal institution through which to examine the mutually constitutive relationships between law and social organisation. This dialectic will be analysed in four regions: Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the ‘grey zone’ now emerging between the 1967 border and the separation barrier/wall. In what was formerly Mandate Palestine, IFL today draws on distinct sources: In Israel, the Ottoman law of 1917 is still recognised in its original form and implemented by sharia courts. In the West Bank, the Jordanian Law of Family Rights of 1976 is applied, while, in Gaza, the 1954 Law of Family Rights proclaimed by the Egyptian governor still obtains. In East Jerusalem, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian judicial authorities compete, but in the ‘grey zone’, no court system is fully operative. Since late Ottoman times, the sharia courts’ legal sphere of intervention was progressively limited to the sole management of personal status issues, to the exclusion of penal and commercial matters; however, their social sphere of action, while impaired by territorial fragmentation, extended from towns into the countryside and, after 1948, the refugee camps.
While drawing upon archival research and legal/textual analysis, fieldwork will focus on the detailed ethnographic observation of courtroom proceedings and sociological enquiries in local communities. It will take into account a wide spectrum of constraints affecting personal status law, ranging from state power to personal interventions. A number of sharia courts will be situated in their often volatile socio-political settings in view of elucidating three major research issues: 1) the influence of foreign rule over Palestinians on the local application of IFL and its transformations; 2) the interplay of gender, proximity and social status in adjudication; 3) the central yet ambiguous role of the qadi as judge and community member in the processes of conflict resolution.
Research methodology will rest on three major pillars: 1) Textual analysis, thematic and diachronic, will cover all IFL texts, relevant regulations and ordinances applied or presently being developed in Israel and Palestine, bodies of case records constituted on the basis of local sharia court archives, as well as various published sources, press and unpublished material. 2) The comparative ethnography of courtroom proceedings will be complemented by observing the behaviour of judges and listening to them attentively. Researchers will thus come to understand how legal norms derived from revealed (Coranic) precepts can (or cannot) be adapted to contemporary social circumstances. 3) Finally, the implications of personal status conflicts will be analysed by studying litigants’ and judges’ roles in their wider networks of social proximity.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Family life and structure: 1920 to present: Middle East.
Shehada Nahda (2012), Family life and structure: 1920 to present: Middle East., in A. Stanton E. Ramsamy P. Seybolt & C. Elliott (ed.), SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1264-1266.
Women of the Middle East between 1920-present
Shehada Nahda (2012), Women of the Middle East between 1920-present, in in O. Patterson & G. J. Geoffrey (ed.), Sage, London, N/A-N/A.
[The portrayal of Islamic family law in Europe] تجلًيات قانون الأسرة الإسلامي في اوروبا
Shehada Nahda (2011), [The portrayal of Islamic family law in Europe] تجلًيات قانون الأسرة الإسلامي في اوروبا, in R. Badr É. Conte R. Heacock et M. al-Malkî (ed.), Birzeit University & Austrian Academy of Sciences, Ramallah, Vienna, NA-NA.
Adam et consorts. Germanité et filiation de la Genèse au Déluge selon les traditions musulmanes
Conte Édouard (2011), Adam et consorts. Germanité et filiation de la Genèse au Déluge selon les traditions musulmanes, in Pierre Bonte Enric Porqueres i Gené & Jérôme Wilgaux (ed.), Éditions de la MSH, Collection Méditerranée-Sud, Paris, 39-71.
Debatting Islamic family law in Palestine: Citizenship, gender and ‘Islamic’ idioms
Shehada Nahda (2011), Debatting Islamic family law in Palestine: Citizenship, gender and ‘Islamic’ idioms, in Sharwani & Mulki (ed.), Zed Publications, London, 1-28.
Elles seront des sœurs pour nous. Le mariage par permutation au Proche-Orient
Conte Édouard (2011), Elles seront des sœurs pour nous. Le mariage par permutation au Proche-Orient, in Études rurales, 2011/1(187), 157-200.
The portrayal of Islamic family law in Europe
Shehada Nahda (2011), The portrayal of Islamic family law in Europe, in Roger Heacock & Édouard Conte (ed.), Birzeit University and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Ramallah and Vienna, 133-152.
Kinship Matters. Tribals, Cousins, and Citizens in Southwest Asia and Beyond
Conte Édouard & Walentowitz Saskia (2010), Kinship Matters. Tribals, Cousins, and Citizens in Southwest Asia and Beyond, in Études rurales, 2009/2(184), 217-248.
[Women, Judges and the Law: An Anthropological Study of the Shari‘a Court of Gaza] النساء والقضاء والقانون
Shehada Nahda (2009), [Women, Judges and the Law: An Anthropological Study of the Shari‘a Court of Gaza] النساء والقضاء والقانون, Muwatin (The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy), Ramallah.
Flexibility versus rigidity in the practice of Islamic Family law
Shehada Nahda (2009), Flexibility versus rigidity in the practice of Islamic Family law, in PoLAR Journal of Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 32(1), 28-46.
House of Obedience: Social Norms, Individual Agency, and Historical Contingency
Shehada Nahda (2009), House of Obedience: Social Norms, Individual Agency, and Historical Contingency, in Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies, 5(1), 24-49.
Negotiating Custody Rights in Islamic Family Law
Shehada Nahda (2009), Negotiating Custody Rights in Islamic Family Law, in Thomas Kirsch and Bertram Turner (ed.), Aldershot/Burlington, Ashgate, 247-262.
The Sharia
Shehada Nahda (2009), The Sharia, in A. Stanton E. Ramsamy P. Seybolt & C. Elliott (ed.), Sage, London, 1352-1354.
Between Change and Continuity: Age and Marriage Trends in Gaza
Shehada Nahda (2008), Between Change and Continuity: Age and Marriage Trends in Gaza, in Hawwa, 6(3), 315-350.
Equity vs. Predictability? The role of the qadi in the Palestinian Territories
Conte Édouard and Shehada Nahda (2008), Equity vs. Predictability? The role of the qadi in the Palestinian Territories, in H.-L. Kieser A. Meier and W. Stoffel (ed.), Chronos, Zürich, 125-144.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Institute of Law, Birzeit University Palestinian territory (Asia)
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Institut français du Proche-Orient France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Institut de recherche et de conseil dans le domaine de la famille, Université de Fribourg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
British Institute in Ammam-Council for British Research in the Levant Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Institute of Social Studies Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Séminaire d'anthropologie sociale, Université de Fribourg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Department of Sociology, Ohio State University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
LabHaut, École nationale d'architecture, Rabat Morocco (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Department of Biology, University of Jordan Jordan (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Laboratoire d'anthropologie sociale, CNRS/EHESS/Collège de France France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Computing Kinship and Legal Data with PUCK 2.0 Talk given at a conference Analysis of the Irbid genealogies and court records 16.10.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland al-Gharaibeh Waleed;
Computing Kinship and Legal Data with PUCK 2.0 Talk given at a conference Analysis of the Jerusalem genealogies and court records 16.10.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland Al Husseini Jalal;
Weekly seminar, Institute of Social Anthropology, Bern Individual talk The single mother's network of proximity in Tunisia (Lecture by M. Arena) 21.03.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland Conte Édouard;
Weekly seminar, Institute of Social Anthropology, Bern Individual talk Women and equality in Berber Morocco (Lecture by J. Bargach) 13.03.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland Conte Édouard;
Rethinking Governance and Gender in an Age of Empire Talk given at a conference Legal reform in Palestine and its implications for gender equity 17.03.2012 Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestinian territory Al-Botmeh Reem Mahmoud Ahmad;
Demographic Transition in the Middle East and North Africa: Disciplines in Dialogue Talk given at a conference A dialogue of disciplines: different methods, common questions 14.01.2012 University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan Conte Édouard;
Demographic Transition in the Middle East and North Africa: Disciplines in Dialogue Talk given at a conference A review of research on consanguinity and fertility in Iran 14.01.2012 University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan Conte Édouard;
Demographic Transition in the Middle East and North Africa: Disciplines in Dialogue Talk given at a conference Migrating in the void: the dynamics of the Palestinian refugee migrations in the Middle East and beyond 14.01.2012 University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan Al Husseini Jalal;
Demographic Transition in the Middle East and North Africa: Disciplines in Dialogue Talk given at a conference Subsistence economy, population history, and genealogy in the Near East 14.01.2012 University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan al-Gharaibeh Waleed;
Demographic Transition in the Middle East and North Africa: Disciplines in Dialogue (J. Bargach) Talk given at a conference Journeys of love and despair for unwed mothers in Morocco 14.01.2012 University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan Conte Édouard;
Demographic Transition in the Middle East and North Africa: Disciplines in Dialogue Talk given at a conference Intisâb: Elective affinities and the construction of pedigree 14.01.2012 University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan Conte Édouard;
Schweizerische Ethnologische Gesellschaft, Jahrestagung. Keynote lecture Talk given at a conference The ‘Arab revolt’ in transgenerational perspective 25.11.2011 Zurich University, Switzerland Conte Édouard;
Women's Agency and Law Workshop Talk given at a conference Empowerment of women in the Arab World 29.05.2011 Helsinki, Finland Shehada Nahda Younis;
Invited lecture Individual talk Citizens vs. agnates. Reflections on the quandary of nasab 19.03.2011 Deutsches Orient-Institut, Beirut, Lebanon Conte Édouard;
Rethinking Governance and Gender in an Age of Empire Talk given at a conference The application of Islamic law in Europe 16.03.2011 Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestinian territory Shehada Nahda Younis;
Conférence régionale des chefs de mission suisses au Moyen-Orient Individual talk Demographic transition and legal reform in the Middle East 03.11.2010 Dead Sea, Jordan Conte Édouard;
Institute of Palestine Studies conference (Re)Searching Palestine: Research Gaps and Horizons Talk given at a conference Images of being and nothingness: Building the Palestinian legal system (in Arabic) 30.10.2010 Birzeit Uniuversity, West Bank, Palestinian territory Al-Botmeh Reem Mahmoud Ahmad;
Colloquium on Promoting the Empowerment of Women in Arab Countries Talk given at a conference Empowerment of women in the Arab World 05.10.2010 Tunis, The Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues in the UN (OSAGI), Tunisia Shehada Nahda Younis;
The Initiative on Judicial Independence and Human Dignity (Karamah) Talk given at a conference Judicial responsibility and accountability (with Jamil Salem) 01.09.2010 Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestinian territory Al-Botmeh Reem Mahmoud Ahmad;
University of Zurich Cairo Summer School Talk given at a conference On the sociology of Islamic law 28.06.2010 Cairo, Egypt Shehada Nahda Younis;
IFPO Institute Seminar Individual talk Adam and his consorts. Kinship and prophecy from the Genesis to the Flood according to Muslim tradition 10.03.2010 Amman, French Institute for the Near East, Jordan Conte Édouard;
Deutsches Orient-Institut conference Historiography in its Arabic Age: Al-Balādhurī’s Ansāb al-Ashrāf Talk given at a conference Adam and his consorts. Nasab and prophecy from the Genesis to the Flood according to Muslim tradition 28.02.2010 Cairo, Egypt Conte Édouard;
Wissenschaftskolleg conference Pluralism and Family Law: Its Justification and Limits Talk given at a conference Muslims and citizenship in Europe 07.05.2009 Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany Shehada Nahda Younis;
Adenauer Foundation conference on Law and Society in the Arab World Talk given at a conference Why Islamic Law is so legal? 11.07.2008 Amman, Jordan, Jordan Shehada Nahda Younis; Conte Édouard;
PATHWAYS conference for Women’s Empowerment International Hubs Talk given at a conference Exploring the role of female preachers in Damascus 24.06.2008 Cairo, Egypt Shehada Nahda Younis;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Computing Kinship and Legal Data with PUCK 2.0 (K. Hamberger, É. Conte) 16.10.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
Demographic Transition in the Middle East and North Africa: Disciplines in Dialogue, International Conference (É. Conte) 12.01.2012 Univesity of Jordan, Amman, Jordan
Cross-regional Feminist Dialogues on Gender and Conflict (N. Shehada) 09.12.2009 Institut of Social Stuides, The Hague, Netherlands
Siblingship, Workshop (A. Barnard, É. Conte, A. Kuper, S. Walentowitz) 02.11.2007 University of Bern, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
From revolution to war: sectarian conflict in the Middle East, Intensive course (É. Conte) 10.10.2013 University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Processes of gender, kinship, and law in changing Islamic contexts, Lecture series (É. Conte) 20.09.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
Transformations of Islamic Family Law: Reform vs. Literalism, Research Seminar (É. Conte) 17.09.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
Conditions of Orphans and Single Mothers in Morocco, Seminar (J. Bargach) 22.03.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
The "Arab spring" in comparative anthropological perspective, Lecture series (É. Conte) 20.02.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland
The Socio-political Implications of Demographic Transition in the Middle East, Lecture series (É. Conte) 05.10.2012 University of Fribourg, Switzerland
"Honour Killings", "Forced Marriage" and Consanguineal Unions. An Anthropology of Marriage in Muslim Contexts", Seminar (É. Conte & S. Walentowitz) 21.02.2012 University of Bern, Switzerland
Israel/Palestine. Anthropology of a Conflict, Seminar (É. Conte) 21.02.2012 University of Bern, Switzerland
Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel: Near Eastern Myths of Genesis in Contemporary Perspective, Lecture series (É. Conte) 21.02.2012 University of Bern, Switzerland
The Sociological Implications of Demographic Transition in Muslim Contexts, Lecture series (É. Conte) 20.09.2011 University of Bern, Switzerland
Law and society in Palestine, Seminar (R. al-Botmeh) 20.09.2008 University of Bern, Switzerland
Family Law in Palestine, Seminar (É. Conte) 20.02.2008 University of Bern, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Other activities Report to French Embassy, Amman: Le statut legal d'enfants de couples mixtes en Jordanie (É. Conte) International 2012
Other activities A Review of Palestinian Legislation from a Women’s Rights Perspective (UNDP) (R. al-Botmeh) International 2011
Media relations: radio, television La transición demográfica en Oriente Medio y sus implicaciones sociales y jurídicas (É. Conte) Radio nacional de España International 2011
Other activities Report to the Bradford Tribunal on the case of Ayesha and Fakhri Eid (Gaza) (N. Shehada) International 2011
Talks/events/exhibitions Youthquake. The Genesis and Implications of Demographic Transition in the MENA (É. Conte) International 2011
Talks/events/exhibitions Conférence régionale des chefs de mission suisses au Moyen-Orient (É. Conte) International 2010
Other activities Summer School of the International Christian-Islamic Summer University in Vienna (N. Shehada) International 2009

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
132350 Kinship, Reproduction, and Homosexuality: A Perspective on Jewish Israeli Society 01.03.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
163486 The Logics of Relatedness in Conditions of Forced Migration. Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon 01.11.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

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