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Family, Law, and Nationalism: Lessons from Post-Ottoman Greece

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Abstract:

Greek legal scholars today commonly depict family law as possessing two distinct characteristics: on the one hand, being marginal as a legal field but, on the other, being quite crucial as a reflection of the mores of a society commonly idealized as homogeneous. A legal historical journey into the nineteenth century helps question both these narratives and uncover the stakes underlying these representations. The marginality of family law emerges as a construction that stabilized at the end of the nineteenth century, until which point the legal cases commonly thought of as falling under family law (marriage, divorce, dowry and inheritance) literally dominated the legal field in a country whose social, economic and political life was defined by the institution of the family. As far as the representative character of family law is concerned, historical inquiry highlights the long process through which family law norms stabilized into a relatively coherent body of rules, out of a vast array of local variation and heterogeneity. The construction of a Greek family law then played a central role in the production of a western identity for a people whose life under the Ottomans had defined modes of life and behavior. It helped produce “the Greek family” properly speaking, as orthodox, monogamous and private; this image was then projected onto the past as a homogeneous entity existing throughout the years of Ottoman rule, unchanged, obfuscating the dynamic and largely locally dependent character of norms in the Ottoman years.
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Name: The Law and Society Association
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Tsoukala, Philomila. "Family, Law, and Nationalism: Lessons from Post-Ottoman Greece" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Jul 06, 2006 <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p96772_index.html>

APA Citation:

Tsoukala, P. , 2006-07-06 "Family, Law, and Nationalism: Lessons from Post-Ottoman Greece" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p96772_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Greek legal scholars today commonly depict family law as possessing two distinct characteristics: on the one hand, being marginal as a legal field but, on the other, being quite crucial as a reflection of the mores of a society commonly idealized as homogeneous. A legal historical journey into the nineteenth century helps question both these narratives and uncover the stakes underlying these representations. The marginality of family law emerges as a construction that stabilized at the end of the nineteenth century, until which point the legal cases commonly thought of as falling under family law (marriage, divorce, dowry and inheritance) literally dominated the legal field in a country whose social, economic and political life was defined by the institution of the family. As far as the representative character of family law is concerned, historical inquiry highlights the long process through which family law norms stabilized into a relatively coherent body of rules, out of a vast array of local variation and heterogeneity. The construction of a Greek family law then played a central role in the production of a western identity for a people whose life under the Ottomans had defined modes of life and behavior. It helped produce “the Greek family” properly speaking, as orthodox, monogamous and private; this image was then projected onto the past as a homogeneous entity existing throughout the years of Ottoman rule, unchanged, obfuscating the dynamic and largely locally dependent character of norms in the Ottoman years.

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