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Agmon to share new perspectives on Ottoman law

September 14, 2012

Agmon to share new perspectives on Ottoman law

Iris Agmon

Iris Agmon

Ben-Gurion University scholar Iris Agmon will present a talk titled "Justice of the Kadi: New Perspectives on Ottoman Law," when she lectures Wednesday, Sept. 19, at Skidmore. Free and open to the public, the event begins at 8 p.m. in Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall.

Agmon, Skidmore's Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence this fall, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University, and a specialist on the social history of the Ottoman Middle East, with special interest in late Ottoman and Mandate Palestine. 

Sociologist Max Weber introduced the term "kadi justiz" (Kadi's justice) to characterize Islamic and similar non-European, pre-modern legal systems as less rational, arbitrary, and unsystematic. The term implies that the judge in Islamic court reaches decisions intuitively and without systematic reasoning. For a long time, histories of the Ottoman Empire unwittingly sustained this viewpoint.

In recent decades, new approaches to the study of Ottoman law and legal history have changed our understanding of the legal system. Agmon will discuss this changing perspective, focusing on the key figure of the judge.

A graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she obtained a Ph.D. in 1995, Agmon has written widely on the Ottoman Empire, including a book titled Family and Court: Legal Culture and Modernity in Late Ottoman Palestine (2006, Syracuse University Press), and a chapter titled "Legal Reforms and the Sharia Courts in the Late Ottoman Empire: Some Remarks on Women, Gender, and Family," in the book titled One Law and One Justice for Men and Women Alike: Women and the Law in Mandate Palestine, published in 2010 by Bar-Ilan University: The Law School Press. She also has published articles in such scholarly journals as Islamic Law and Society and the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

The Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence Series is made possible by a gift from Skidmore alumna Jane Greenberg. The series enables the college to host an Israeli scholar who through teaching, lecturing, and participating in campus life educates the community on a range of topics concerning political life in the Middle East. The Office of the Dean of Special Programs coordinates the Greenberg series.


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