A Society's Crucible: Forging Law And The Criminal Defendant In Modern Egypt, 1820-1920

Mina Elias Khalil, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This dissertation studies the history of the criminal defendant as both a social and legal subject of inquiry in modern Egypt from the 1820s to the 1920s. In doing so, this dissertation thereby attempts to shed light on how Egypt was indeed a laboratory of social and legal change across the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, unveiling the actual details of the legal reforms and the impact they had on the formation of Egyptian society by the end of the nineteenth century and into the first two decades of the twentieth century. This dissertation, therefore, is not a discursive discussion of legal transformations that took place in modern Egypt, but rather it sheds piercing light on how the process of unfettering Egypt's figurative chains to two empires—the Ottoman and the British Empires—inextricably entailed an unshackling of the chains that reconfigured and bound criminal defendants in relation to their imperial state and reconstituted authority within modern Egyptian society. Through this historical exploration, it sheds light on how Egyptian society itself was reimagined and reconstituted through its criminal law—both substantive and procedure—and how through these legal processes, modern Egypt as embodied in the figure of the criminal defendant now stood in relation to its past and its Islamic legal tradition. In doing so, this dissertation thereby confronts on a more abstract level the deeper questions underlying the transformations that took place within Islamic law and society.