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Women, Gender, and the Palace Households in Ottoman Tunisia

By Amy Aisen Kallander

Publication Year: 2013

This examination of Tunisia’s ruling family between 1700 and 1900 reveals the significance of the palace and the crucial political and economic roles women played in the family’s relationship with the imperial government.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Note on Transliteration

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pp. xi-xii

...This is applied uniformly, including proper names that often appear in French transliteration such as Kheireddine or Hussein ben Ali, which are rendered Khayr al-Din and Husayn ibn ʿAli. With weights and measures, I have opted for the awkward addition of the letter “s” at the end of the singular to facilitate reading for those unfamiliar with the Arabic language. Foreign terms are briefly defined in the text, with...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

...As is often true, this book is the result of a long trajectory, and I have benefited from considerable intellectual and institutional support. I would like to thank Matthew J. Connelly for introducing me to the history of northern Africa and for his gracious and unfailing mentoring over the years. My understanding of Tunisia, its place in Ottoman provincial politics, and the French colonial world...

Part I. Family Foundations of Ottoman Rule

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Introduction. Families, Households, and Palace Women in Early Modern Court Culture

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pp. 3-29

...In the summer of 1776, the governor of Tunis celebrated the wedding of three of his children: his son Hammuda, his daughter Amina, and a second daughter (whose name is unknown).1 For months before that, women in the family, their domestics, and slaves were busy gathering the various articles for the trousseaus of the two brides, including diverse clothing and decorative linens, much of which was embroidered...

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Chapter 1. Family and the Politics of Marriage

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pp. 30-50

...By 1650, the household had become an important feature of Ottoman politics and a key institution in the training and recruitment of bureaucratic personnel. Instruction and patronage within the households of ministers rivaled earlier practices centered in the palace such as military training and...

Part II. Family and Provincial Government, 1756–1840

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2. The Prosperous Palace

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pp. 53-78

...thirteenth-century manuscript that circulated between Aleppo, Cairo, Damascus, and later Istanbul; other culinary works of the Abbasid era included additional recipes of North African inspiration, couscous in particular, and referenced specific North African varieties of herbs.3 During Grenville Temple’s tour of the province in 1835, he offered the following comments on a meal with a provincial...

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3. Women’s Worlds

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pp. 79-108

...The palace at Bardo was under constant renovations, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when it functioned as the political center. Built in the early fifteenth century, it was one of the Hafsid’s suburban retreats, with the Dar al-Bey in the center of Tunis serving official purposes. Slightly southwest of the capital, the Bardo’s expansive gardens, pavilions, and decorative fountains evoked Almohad...

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4. Beyond Bardo

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pp. 109-122

...The representation of power through wealth was meaningful only when these displays reached an attentive audience. The palace tribunal created one space for the presentation of beylical power as accessible instead of remote, where authority was personified by a bey who solved anyone’s problem. Even if provincial organization was decentralized with authority delegated to regional administrators, the beys marked...

Part III. Nineteenth-century Transformations

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5. The Constitution, Financial Reform, and the Modern Family

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pp. 125-149

...Though he had already reduced the number of troops because of difficulties paying their salaries, in 1853 Ahmad Bey decided to send a fleet to assist the sultan in the Crimean War (1853–1856). To fund the contingent, he dipped into his private treasury, handing his jewelry over to his agent in Europe to sell. His powerful mamluk minister, Mustafa Khaznadar, followed suit, including the jewelry...

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6. Inventing Dynastic Traditions: Family Politics of French Colonialism

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pp. 150-171

...The 1861 constitution formalized the structural dependence of the family on the paternal authority of the bey, structures that were extended by the subjugation of the entire family under French colonialism. In May of 1881, a minor incident along the border with Algeria provided an opportunity for French warships to dock outside the capital, from where they delivered a treaty to the bey demanding continued trade privileges and the recognition of French suzerainty. This...

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pp. 172-178

...In January 2011 the international public discovered the corruption of Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali (1987–2011); his wife, Leila Trabelsi; and their respective families, who had monopolized the nation’s political and economic life for a substantial portion of his 23-year rule. In a number of respects, they perpetuated the worst attributes of a royal family: they built sumptuous palaces, flaunted their wealth, were immune to legal sanction, and used...

Appendix 1. Genealogies

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pp. 179-185

Appendix 2. Annual Expense Registers of the Palace Treasury

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pp. 186-186

Appendiex 3. Income and Expenditures of the Bey

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pp. 187-188


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pp. 189-234


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pp. 235-238


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pp. 239-260


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pp. 261-269

E-ISBN-13: 9780292753921
E-ISBN-10: 0292753926
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292748385
Print-ISBN-10: 0292748388

Page Count: 287
Illustrations: 12 photos, 7 line drawings, 2 maps, 7 tables
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 856929509
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Women, Gender, and the Palace Households in Ottoman Tunisia

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women -- Tunisia -- Social conditions -- History.
  • Tunisia -- Kings and rulers -- History.
  • Tunisia -- History -- 1516-1881.
  • Tunisia -- Politics and government.
  • Courts and courtiers -- Tunisia -- History.
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