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Authorized Lies: Colonial Agency and Legal Hybrids in Tashkent, c. 1881-1893

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Abstract In this essay I reconstruct a conflict over the legitimacy of a waqf established in Tashkent in 1881. The litigation involved a qāḍī and the heirs of the founder of the endowment; Russian colonial authorities investigated the case. Looking, as they were, for an instance of qāḍī malpractice, the Russians sought recourse to legal concepts borrowed from sharīʿa and fabricated evidence as they saw fit. I draw on the idea of legal pluralism in order to highlight how, in Russian Central Asia, legal praxis inevitably embraced diverse conceptions of legality. I also show how locals were able to maneuver government officials into using procedures from various legal traditions and thus produce a legal hybrid. Le présent article s’attache à reconstituer un contentieux touchant la légitimité d’un waqf établi à Tashkent en 1881. Le litige opposait un qāḍī aux héritiers du fondateur de la dotation; les autorités coloniales russes étaient en charge de l’enquête. Prompts à mettre en cause les qāḍī pour malversations à la moindre occasion, les Russes n’hésitaient pas à recourir à des notions juridiques empruntées à la sharīʿa, voire à forger des preuves au besoin. Mon analyse de cette affaire s’appuie sur la notion de pluralisme juridique, qui permet de mettre en évidence la coexistence, dans la justice telle qu’elle se pratiquait en Asie Centrale sous domination russe, de conceptions hétérogènes de la légalité. Cette étude révèle aussi le rôle des populations locales, et leur capacité à induire les fonctionnaires d’état à mettre en œuvre des procédures émanant de traditions différentes, au point de produire de véritables hybrides juridiques.


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