Normative, legal and empirical approaches beyond the women's rights issues
19-21 June 2013 Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Famiily law organizes issues that are central to people's domestic lives, such as marriage, child care, divorce and inheritance. The study of family law can therefore provide insights on constructions and norms about parenthood, sexual relations, the transfer of wealth and the intertwining of the public and the private. European and US academic writing on Islamic family law seem to be divided between a normative approach, a legal approach and an empirical social science approach. Significant differences in questions, methodology and sources make that these approaches rarely meet. Moreover, the field is also divided by geographical borders. Academic work on Islamic family law in the "West" and on Islamic family law in the Muslim world remains largely separated, as is the case with work by scholars from Muslim-majority countries and studies by scholars from Europe and the US. This conference will bring together these fields of study to produce new insights and promote an interdisciplinary and transnational approach.
In all three approaches, there is a strong focus on the issues, rights and position of Muslim women. Muslim women are sometimes depicted as the victims of patriarchal Islamic family laws that grant them little claim to legal rights. While Muslim women are at the centre of academic attention, Muslim men are seldom studied in relation to family law. This conference aims to go beyond a limited women's rights perspective and develop a critical gender perspective, including men and masculinities as well as women and femininities. Discussing mixed families and transnational relationships will provide new insights on intersections of gender with class and ethnicity and legal pluralism.
Questions we want to raise in this conference are: what could an interdisciplinary approach of Islamic family law look like? How can we integrate the different approaches to the study of Islamic family law, both in Europe and the US as well as in Muslim-majority countries? How can scholars of Islamic family law in the West and the Muslim World learn from each other? What do recent events in the Arab spring mean for family law, both in the Middle East and in Europe? What can an intersectional approach of gender and other inequalities contribute to the study of Islamic family law? What is the role of Islamic family law outside of courts and legal conflicts, in the everyday life of people in Muslim-majority-countries and in the West? How do debates on Islamic family law in the West and in Muslim-Majority countries influence each other and legal practice? How does Islamic family law interact with other State legal systems in the cases of migrant and mixed families?