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Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar. Domestic Architecture and Urban History: The Promise and Limitations of Property Deeds Written in Cairo’s Early Ottoman Courts

Shauna Huffaker, associate professor of history, University of Windsor

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The documentary record of Cairo is among the richest for any part of the pre-modern Islamic world. Using examples from the archive of the Coptic Patriarchate in Abbasiya and Dar al-Wathiq in the Egyptian National Archives, we will consider the format of deeds of sale and their utility for historians of urbanism. Property boundaries and descriptions were an essential part of uniquely identifying the property for sale for owners, sellers, notaries and court officials. In the present, the finely textured details of these descriptions invite us into the streets, neighborhoods and intimate spaces of Mamluk and Ottoman Cairo. But reading these descriptions to meet the presentist needs of the historian comes with its own perils. We will also discuss the challenges of gaining access to and working with the archives which house these documents.

Shauna Huffaker is an urban historian at the University of Windsor in Ontario who studies the medieval and early modern Middle East. She will be leading a workshop on the lived experiences of the builders and inhabitants of early modern Cairo and the documents that make their lives visible to us.

This event is organized by the Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar (IISS) with support from the Global Islamic Studies Center (GISC).

Snacks and refreshments will be served. Please RSVP by emailing
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When and Where

Map Weiser Hall - 619

November 2018

10:00am - 11:50am

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