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Stiles utilizes in-depth ethnographic study of judicial reasoning and litigant activity in Islamic family court in Zanzibar, Tanzania to draw new and important conclusions on how people understand and use Islamic legal ideas in marital disputes.
"Through richly detailed and beautifully narrated cases Stiles presents a deeply humanistic account of a contemporary Islamic legal system. Concentrating on Zanzibar, she demonstrates how women in particular navigate a religiously affiliated system, and in the process she brings an entire society to life. With her insightful interpretation of a legal environment that governs one-fifth of the planet and about which Westerners continue to posses far too simplistic a view she makes a signal contribution to the literature." - Lawrence Rosen, Cromwell Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University and author of Varieties of Muslim Experience
"Stiles provides one of the few in-depth looks at how a contemporary Islamic judge deals with divorce. She describes in vivid detail how women and men negotiate in a Zanzibar court, and the way an ordinary judge must draw on his study of the Qur’an, his knowledge of state law, and his keen sense of the complexities of social life to resolve often bitter disputes. This book is at once a major work in legal anthropology and a rich example of the very best in social studies of contemporary Islam." - John R. Bowen, Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts and Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis
Introduction: Kahdi, Court, and Anthropologist
Writing a Case: Court Actors and Court Procedure
From Community to Court: Gendered Experience of Divorce
Allegations of Repudiation: Determining Intention in Disputed Divorce
Witnessing and Authority in the Court: Elders, Shaykhs, and Shehas
Money Matters: Khului Divorce in Context
Conclusion: The Court is a Hospital
ERIN E. STILES is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at California State University, USA.