Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, University of Texas / Dallas

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
Approaching Islamic Law: Women, Gender, and Law in Morocco, 1310-1465

My investigation centers on how women approached Islamic law in fourteenth and fifteenth century Morocco. Research over the last few decades shows that women were active participants in the Islamic legal courts, defending their rights to property and inheritance, demanding their rights in their marriages, and conducting numerous types of business transactions across the Ottoman world. This research will turn the focus to North Africa, and examine the diverse ways in which women interacted with Islamic law in Morocco from 1310-1465. I will investigate three aspects of women’s interaction with Islamic law: the participation of women in the Islamic legal courts; the ways in which women and gender were described in juristic discourse such as doctrinal texts and legal opinions (fatwas); and the lives of women who engaged with Islamic law at the level of advanced scholarship. This study will employ theories of gender, providing an example of the construction of gender in Islamic legal texts. This research will add to the literature on women in Islamic legal history and female scholarship by bringing women and gender to the forefront in Moroccan legal studies, and extending the field of analysis to the intellectual environment in which legal scholarship flourished. The goal of my project is also to expand our understanding of the range of possibilities for women as actors in Moroccan and Islamic history. History is not monolithic, and my attention to gender here will help illustrate this point, as it shows that in certain times and places our understanding of what is normative behavior is challenged, for example, by the presence of elite women who engaged in exceptional activities. On the other hand, I anticipate that my study will confirm for the Islamic West the ordinariness of women’s participation in Islamic courts that has been shown for other parts of the Islamic world.