Book

The Calligraphic State

Brinkley Messick

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076051
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520917828 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520076051.001.0001
The Calligraphic State

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This combination of anthropology, history, and postmodern theory examines the changing relation of writing and authority in a Muslim society from the late nineteenth century to the present. The creation and interpretation of texts, from sacred scriptures to administrative and legal contracts, are among the fundamental ways that authority is established and maintained in a complex state. Yet few scholars have explored this process and the ways in which it changes, especially outside the Western world. The book brings together intensive ethnography and textual analysis from a wealth of material: Islamic jurisprudence, Yemeni histories, local documents. In exploring the structure and transformation of literacy, law, and statecraft in Yemen, it raises issues that are of comparative significance for understanding political life in other Muslim and nonwestern states as well.

Keywords: Muslim society; sacred scriptures; authority; Islamic jurisprudence; Yemeni histories; literacy; law; statecraft; Yemen; nonwestern states

Book.  324 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Calligraphic State

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Genealogies of the Text in The Calligraphic State

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The Pen and the Sword in The Calligraphic State

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Disenchantment in The Calligraphic State

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Audition in The Calligraphic State

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The New Method in The Calligraphic State

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Print Culture in The Calligraphic State

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shariʽa Society in The Calligraphic State

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Judicial Presence in The Calligraphic State

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