This article argues for the importance of concepts of translation, conversion, and articulation in the study of inheritance and the transmission of goods among diasporic populations. It focuses on the Hadhrami migrations to Southeast Asia in the nineteenth century, migrations that crisscrossed multiple jurisdictions, local, British, Dutch, and that of the Ottoman Empire. Properties of different kinds were held in different places under different legal rulings. Colonial and Islamic legal practices in the colonial period are illuminated by a detailed treatment of a complex petition to Queen Victoria by a Hadhrami claiming that he and his wife had been denied their proper inheritance due to them under Islamic law. The article explores the implications of the interrelations of such legal practices in relation to conflicts over wills and dispositions of properties across diasporic space and the problems of translation facing Muslims in colonial courts.
Translating Colonial Fortunes: Dilemmas of Inheritance in Muslim and English Laws across a Nineteenth-Century Diaspora
Michael Gilsenan; Translating Colonial Fortunes: Dilemmas of Inheritance in Muslim and English Laws across a Nineteenth-Century Diaspora. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2011; 31 (2): 355–371. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-1264289
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