The Late Ottoman Empire and Egypt : hybridity, law and gender

Shlala, Elizabeth H., author
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  • Law and identification transgressed political boundaries in the nineteenth-century Levant. Over the course of the century, Italo-Levantines- elite and common- exercised a strategy of resilient hybridity whereby an unintentional form of legal imperialism took root in Egypt. This book contributes to a vibrant strand of global legal history that places law and other social structures at the heart of competing imperial projects- British, Ottoman, Egyptian, and Italian among them. Analysis of the Italian consular and mixed court and diplomatic records in Egypt and Istanbul reveals the complexity of shifting identifications and judicial reform in two parts of the interactive and competitive plural legal regime. The book shows that judicial reform led to shifting authorities, venues, and identities, which resulted from bargains struck- cases won and lost- with various local actors. Over time and acting in their own self-interests, these actors exploited the plural legal regime and a legal form of imperialism took root in Egypt. Case studies in both Egypt and Istanbul explore how identification developed as a legal form of property itself. The rich court records show that binary relational categories fail to capture the complexity of the daily lives of the residents and courts of the late Ottoman empire. Whereas the classical literature emphasized external state power politics, this book builds upon new work in the field that shows the interaction of external and internal power struggles throughout the region led to assorted forms of confrontation, collaboration, and negotiation in the region. It will be of interest to students, scholars, and readers of Middle East, Ottoman, and Mediterranean history.


  • Includes bibliographical references (pages 129-137) and index.


  • Levant and Levantines -- The De Rossetti affair -- Remind him of his responsibilities : the consular era and the mixed courts of Egypt -- From Italo-Levantine subjects to mixed nationals and Italians abroad -- Contested debt, constructed identification, and gendered legal strategies in Istanbul