Family law among the Uyghurs: divorce settlements between 1911–1949
(62nd Meting Friedensau, 2019)
Family law is an important constituent of civil law that deals with social relations within the family and the household. It regulates conflicts concerning marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption, inheritance and so on. Family law among the Uyghurs has undergone changes several times in the course of political and social upheavals. During the republican era (1911–1949) the settlement of conflicts emerging in the domestic sphere was governed by Islamic law. Based on several text corpora consisting of legal documents originating in southern Xinjiang (Khotan and Kashgar) from the Republican era, in this paper, I will analyze the reasons behind such disputes and the final decision made by Muslim judges. My analysis will focus on the question to what extent the final decision was influenced by Shari’a law, local law or judicial law. It will also touch upon women’s position in pre-socialist Uyghur society, the role of village elders and father in law, patterns of dispute settlement, the influence of the different divorce forms to maintenance (nefeqe) etc., drawing up the parameters of further research on the texts.