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Webinar: Paternity Claim, Lineage, and Slavery: Adjudicating Istilḥāq in Colonial Moroccan Sharīʿa Courts by Ari Schriber, Harvard University, February 1, 2021 @ 6 – 7:30 pm

February 1, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

From the organizers:

We are very excited to be kicking off our spring program next Monday, February 1, 6:00-7:30pm (EST). Ari Schriber (PhD Candidate, NELC) will present a draft dissertation chapter titled “Paternity Claim, Lineage, and Slavery: Adjudicating Istilḥāq in Colonial Moroccan Sharīʿa Courts.” Mohamed Abdelsalam has graciously agreed to serve as respondent. 
If you would like to join this session, please RSVP by replying to cbordewich@g.harvard.edu. We will provide the Zoom link and paper prior to the reading.
Chapter 4 of my dissertation interrogates the adjudication of the Maliki jurisprudential concept of istilḥāq–the “paternity claim”–in colonial-era Moroccan shari’a courts. The dissertation itself is structured around a complicated dispute (“Case 52”) in which a man sought to claim paternity over a child whose mother is an enslaved woman. Both colonial-era Moroccan French courts and shari’a courts claimed jurisdiction over the dispute, resulting in parallel and contradicting rulings in the 1930s and 1940s. Chapter 4 focuses on istilḥāq as the core substantive element at play in the shari’a court rulings and introduces its prescriptive relationship to Islamic jurisprudential norms of paternity and slavery. The chapter then proceeds to examine the adjudication of Case 52 in 1943 and another paradigmatic case from the Moroccan Supreme Council of Shari’a Appeals in 1953 to demonstrate the particular evidentiary challenges of adjudicating istilḥāq conflicts in the courtroom. In the end, I argue that the shari’a judges’ mutually affecting understandings of substantive jurisprudential domains, evidence, and social knowledge represents an Islamic judicial ideal by which they produced sharia rulings during this period–despite French administrative pretensions to separate non-substantive personal status matters from shari’a court competency. As I proceed to show in Chapters 5 and 6, it is likewise an ideal that French courts–purporting to adjudicate on the basis of shari’a–ultimately proved incapable of replicating.


February 1, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
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