Evidence of the Word

Brinkley Messick

in The Calligraphic State

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076051
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520917828 | DOI:
Evidence of the Word

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines the use of ordinary legal documents such as contracts and deeds, and considers why their value as evidence was questioned. One of the most revealing expressions of the relationship between the spoken and the written word concerns the use of documents and the rules of evidence. Witnessing is an activity grounded in the immediacy and authenticity of the senses. It pertains to the contemporary bonds of a social community. The Shafi'i evidence doctrine operates according to a marketplace theory of free circulation of witnesses, and thus of words. The meaning process of writing and creating texts such as legal documents rests on parallel movements. The first is from the shari'a to text, from the manual to the document; the second is from the world (as event) to text, from a specific human undertaking, such as a sale, to the document.

Keywords: shari'a; written word; contracts; deeds; witnessing; writing; Shafi'i

Chapter.  11974 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.