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Browsing by Author "Obatnin, Georgii"

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  • Obatnin, Georgii (2018)
    In a history written by men, women are typically assigned minimal agency, hardly indicative of their real roles in the society. Traditionally, scholarship on women under Islam has been reliant on medieval Islamic historical, literary and legal works. These works were often written long after the events they depict and when it comes to depicting women, tend to be prescriptive, rather than descriptive. When it comes to Arabic documents written on papyrus, parchment and paper, these biases are largely nonexistent, as we are provided with a contemporaneous window into everyday life—something none of the sources mentioned above can do. In this thesis I am working with documentary sources to explore the roles of women in Egypt under early medieval Islam. Due to the scarcity of prior scholarship, apart from reconstructing some aspects of women’s lives, this thesis has two additional aims. First, it aims to build a frame of reference that can be used to read and understand Arabic documents pertaining to women. Second, it seeks to assess how and in what capacity these sources can be used in the future. Throughout the three main chapters of this thesis, twelve documents are utilized to talk about women owning and operating with real estate, slaves and businesses, as well as women’s position within the family and the society. The investigation covers the period from 750 to 969 CE and deals with all three main ethno-religious communities of Egypt—Muslim, Jewish and Coptic. Eleven out of the twelve documents presented in this work are used for the first time to study women appearing in them, while five of them have seen here their first translation into English. By reading these documents and comparing them to other, more traditional, sources, as well as works of prior scholarship, this thesis builds a more balanced picture of early medieval Egyptian life and women’s role in it. It also surveys the themes and topics present in the documentary record and maps out potential avenues for future research.