Legal pluralism and communal identity

A multi-disciplinary study of legal documents from the oases of Khotan, Kashgar and Kucha, southern Xinjiang (1911–1949)

Aysima Mirsultan (Post-doctoral Fellow)

This project focuses on a text corpus of 150 legal documents (acquired from private owners) pertaining to civil disputes (marriage, divorce, lease, rent, law, inheritance, land and water disputes etc.) produced by Uyghur religious legal experts in republican Xinjiang in the first half of the 20th century.

Linking the approaches of social history with theories of legal pluralism and applying them at the interface between law and literature, it explores the interconnectedness of state law, Islamic law and local (customary) law and the relationship between law and morality.

Drawing on relevant literature for the imperial as well as the republican era, and reaching out to studies dealing with other parts of China and neighbouring Central Asia, the project probes into the construction and mediation of social values and meanings among Turkic speaking Muslims (Uyghurs) through civil litigation, the representation of different types of authorities and the role of morality in identity construction.