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State and Customary Law in Upper Egypt

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The elders of the villages and towns of Upper Egypt frequently convene councils for the settlement of disputes. These councils, which are independent of the state, deal with such matters as rights in water and land and also with succession disputes. Larger councils settle conflicts arising from homicide or feuds. I argue here that these councils should be analyzed as an integral part of society and that their relationship to the state is many-facetted. The continued importance of these institutions cannot be understood if one views customary law and reconciliation councils as no more than a reaction to a corrupt and unjust official legal system


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