ecent hiorical scholarship on gender and nationalism in the Middle has tended to use gender as a metaphor to analyze political culture, while social hiory based on the Islamic Sharia court archives and exploring womenâs lives in the prenational Ottoman periods has generally not addressed the issue of political culture. What can the Islamic court archivesâprobate inventories in particularâtell about changing gender roles, mnings, and values on the eve of the national period in Syria? Data from the la available probate inventories of Damascusâs Sharia courts indicate that as the overall economy was inflating and expanding at the turn of the twentieth century, womenâs traditionally limited autonomy within it was in fact contracting. Trends in probate inventory data show that an economy expanding with cash and merchandise was also characterized by declining rates of participation by women in the courts as economic actors; incrsed marginality of women operating without or outside of families; and incrsed invement in intermediate and upperclass women through rategic marriage, reflected in a eep upward trend in marriage payments for a few women. The data sugge consolidation of a commercial middle class funded with the new liquidity of the Mediterrann trade, supporting a culture
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East – Duke University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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