Shauna Huffaker

  • Fellowship Dates 2012-2012
  • Research Topic The Notaries of Ibn Tulun and the Establishment of The Ottoman Courts of Egypt, 1530-80 CE
  • Fellow or Grant Type National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Affiliation Post-doctoral candidate University of Windsor

Beginning in 1522, five years after their defeat of the Mamluk empire, the Ottomans created a system of courts in Egypt. Egyptian assistant judges, notaries and other court employees staffed these courts though a Turkish-speaking chief judge appointed by administrators in Istanbul headed the system as a whole. The courts were responsible for implementing imperial goals articulated by Istanbul but also worked to meet the needs and preferences of local patrons and employees. The process of Ottomanization was an unruly and complex mutual adaptation in which prior structures and local needs and norms interacted with imperial orders to create a distinctive Egyptian Ottoman court system.

This research composes a micro-historical study of the notaries of suburban courts over the first half century of its existence. It compares the records of the court of Ibn Tūlūn, the earliest and most complete set of records extant for any Cairo suburban court, with the register of the court of Dumyat, to provide a rural point of comparison. These two courts are the best sources to meet the two goals of this research project: the production of a social history of the court notary – the public face of the court. Notaries helped patrons shape their petitions to achieve both their desired outcomes and meet the requirements of Ottoman and Islamic law and were experts in legal documentation that provided continuity between the old and new legal systems during the period of transition over the course of the sixteenth century. The project also creates a narrative of the formation of the Ottoman court system of Egypt based on two case studies of the courts of Ibn Tūlūn and Dumyat during their first half century.

TopicsArabic & Islamic & Near and Middle Eastern Studies, History, Popular CultureThemeCities & TownsHistoric PeriodOttomanLocationCairo Region


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