One of the enduring verities of the study of law and social change in Egypt (and many other parts of North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia) is that European legal codes, one of many tools of colonial control, forcibly displaced Islamic law in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this essay I propose that, at least in Egypt, codification based on Continental European models, had significant support from important indigenous economic and social interests as well as being a project of the colonial or the domestic state. In the context of debates about comparative law in the late 19th and early 20th in which Egyptians took part, Roman or codified law had three important advantages relative to common law or judge-made law which made it progressive. It embodied popular sovereignty and it privileged social-scientific expertise. Its third advantage derived from these first two: it ensured that legal training created a corps of state officials who would impose law rather than advocates who would represent opposing interests in the arena of courtroom.
Friday, February 6, 2015
Goldberg on Law, Expertise and Political Economy in 20th-Century Egypt
Ellis Goldberg, University of Washington, has posted Law, Expertise and Political Economy in Twentieth Century Egypt. Here is the abstract: