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Family, Gender, and Law in a Globalizing Middle East and South Asia

edited by Kenneth M. Cuno and Manisha Desai

Publication Year: 2009

The essays in this collection examine issues of gender, family, and law in the Middle East and South Asia. In particular, the authors address the impact of colonialism on law, family, and gender relations; the role of religious politics in writing family law and the implications for gender relations; and the tension between international standards emerging from UN conferences and conventions and various nationalist projects. Employing the frame of globalization, the authors highlight how local and global forces interact and influence the experience and actions of people who engage with the law. By virtue of a "south-south" comparison of two quite similar and culturally linked regions, contributors avoid positing "the West" as a modern telos. Drawing upon the fields of anthropology, history, sociology, and law, this volume offers a wide-ranging exploration of the complicated history of jurisprudence with regard to family and gender.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

The chapters in this volume were presented in preliminary versions at the international symposium “Family, Gender, and Law in a Globalizing Middle East and South Asia” held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on October 7–9, 2004. The symposium was organized by the university’s Center for South Asian and...


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xx

The essays in this collection examine issues of family and gender in relation to law—especially family law—in eleven states of the Middle East and South Asia. The result, we hope, is a comparative picture of how family life and family law (which cannot be separated from gender) have been contested, constructed, and reconstructed...

Part One: Colonial Modernity and Family Law Codes

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pp. 1

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1. Disobedient Wives and Neglectful Husbands: Marital Relations and the First Phase of Family Law Reform in Egypt

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pp. 3-18

After thirty years of marriage, al-Sayyida, the daughter of Ali Jirjis, became a “disobedient” wife. Her case was recorded in the register of the provincial Sharia court of al-Daqahliyya, which was located in the town of al-Mansura, in Egypt’s eastern Delta, in February 1909. Although her act of disobedience was not described...

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2. Patriarchy, Sexuality, and Property: The Impact of Colonial State Policies on Gender Relations in India

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pp. 19-39

The nineteenth century is considered the century of social reform movements focused on violence against women in India. In response to these campaigns, significant pieces of legislation were enacted by the colonial state. Significant among these laws are the Sati Regulation Act of 1829, the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856...

Part Two: Religion, Custom, the State, and Patriarchy

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pp. 41

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3. The Monotheisms, Patriarchy, and the Constitutional Right to Human Dignity in Israel

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pp. 43-64

The place of religion in the Israeli legal system is derived from a complex historical and political reality. Israel was created as a homeland for the Jewish people after two thousand years of persecution as a religious and racial minority dispersed throughout the world. In this respect, Israel was established as a Jewish state...

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4. Legal Pluralism Versus a Uniform Civil Code: The Continuing Debates in India

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pp. 65-78

Unlike most secular democracies, India does not have a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to address matters of inheritance, marriage, divorce, maintenance, and adoption.1 Instead, these issues are governed by religious personal laws. In India four religious communities—the majority Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Parsi—have their own...

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5. Institutions and Women’s Rights: Religion, the State, and Family in Turkey

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pp. 79-101

The United Nations defines globalization as shrinking space, shrinking time, and the disappearance of borders (Human Development Report, 1999 1999). We can clarify this description by noting that it involves increased human mobility and interaction, the creation of an integrated single market, and development of common...

Part Three: Family Law Codes Contested and (Re)constructed

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pp. 103

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6. Struggles over Personal Status and Family Law in Post-Baathist Iraq

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pp. 105-125

The position of women and the shape of family law have been a key arena for cultural and imperial politics in post-Baathist Iraq, just as they were throughout the republican and Baathist period. Conflicts over the position of women had a global context in Iraq. On the one hand, the British colonialists had helped install a landed...

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7. Family, Gender, and Law in Jordan and Palestine

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pp. 126-144

Recent years have seen considerable debates around developments in family law in Jordan and in the West Bank and Gaza.1 The national liberation struggle in Palestine impacts distinctively on the discourse of gender and family law, while in Jordan the sovereign’s historic investment in legitimacy within the country’s tribal...

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8. Revisiting the Debate on Family Law in Morocco: Context, Actors, and Discourses

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pp. 145-162

In October 2003 King Muhammad VI of Morocco decided to reform the Sharia-based family law, moudawana.1 The new Family Code transformed the Moroccan legislation of family law from one of the most conservative to one of the most progressive in the Arab world. Taking place only a few months after the Casablanca...

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9. Straddling CEDAW and the MMA: Conflicting Visions of Women’s Rights in Contemporary Pakistan

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pp. 163-183

Pakistan became a state party to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1996,1 and, as such, it pledged to review its existing laws and social institutions to eliminate discrimination against women.2 Three years later, a relatively progressive government came...

Part Four: Women’s Roles and Family Relationships Renegotiated and Redefined

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pp. 185

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10. Gender and Law(s): Moral Regulation in Contemporary Bangladesh

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pp. 187-210

Feminist analyses of women’s behavior and increasing attention to technologies of self have enhanced appreciation for how women negotiate their social worlds. Such appreciation recognizes women as social agents rather than victims and implicitly acknowledges the constraints on women’s behavior set by extant social mores. Although...

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11. Shifting Practices and Identities: Nontraditional Relationships among Sunni Muslim Egyptians and Emiratis

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pp. 211-222

This essay is based on analysis of documents gathered and interviews undertaken during fieldwork in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2003, and focuses on the rise of especially ‘urfi (customary) and misyar relationships,1 nontraditional sexual and marital “contract” relationships that have emerged among Sunni Muslims...

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12. Afghan Refugee Women in Iran: Revisioning the Afghan Family

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pp. 223-247

Since the establishment of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban regime in 2002, family law reform has been the focus of many conferences and meetings and a great deal of research.1 However, although some female politicians are addressing family law reform, few of their male counterparts have taken up the issue. This situation...

Works Cited

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pp. 251-282


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pp. 283-308

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651482
E-ISBN-10: 0815651481
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632351
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632355

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Domestic relations -- Middle East.
  • Domestic relations -- South Asia.
  • Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- South Asia.
  • Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Middle East.
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