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Animals as Property in Early Modern Ottoman Egypt

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Through an examination of the role of domesticated animals as forms of property in rural Ottoman Egypt, this article argues that historians of the early modern Muslim world must pay greater attention to the economic and social importance of animals. Based on the sharīa court records of multiple cities in both the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt, this study documents the role of animals as agricultural laborers, as means of transport, and as sources of food. It then analyzes several court cases in which the abilities of animals to move, die, and procreate serve to challenge notions of property and legal ownership in Ottoman Egypt.

À travers l’examen du rôle que jouaient les animaux domestiques, en tant qu’objets de propriété, dans les campagnes de l’Égypte ottomane, cet article propose qu’une attention accrue devrait être prêtée à l’importance économique et sociale des animaux à l’époque moderne. Basée sur les registres de tribunaux religieux de nombreuses villes du Delta et de Haute Égypte, cette étude révèle le rôle des animaux en tant qu’ouvriers agricoles, moyens de transport et sources d’alimentation. Une série de procès menés devant ces tribunaux montre que la capacité des animaux à se déplacer, à mourir et à procréer servait à remettre en cause les notions de propriété et de possession légale dans l’Égypte ottomane.


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