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Women, Gender, and the Palace Households in Ottoman Tunisia

Women, Gender, and the Palace Households in Ottoman Tunisia

AMY AISEN KALLANDER
Copyright Date: 2013
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/748385
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    Women, Gender, and the Palace Households in Ottoman Tunisia
    Book Description:

    In this first in-depth study of the ruling family of Tunisia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kallander investigates the palace as a site of familial and political significance. Through extensive archival research, she elucidates the domestic economy of the palace as well as the changing relationship between the ruling family of Tunis and the government, thus revealing how the private space of the palace mirrored the public political space.

    "Instead of viewing the period as merely a precursor to colonial occupation and the nation-state as emphasized in precolonial or nationalist histories, this narrative moves away from images of stagnation and dependency to insist upon dynamism," Kallander explains. She delves deep into palace dynamics, comparing them to those of monarchies outside of the Ottoman Empire to find persuasive evidence of a global modernity. She demonstrates how upper-class Muslim women were active political players, exerting their power through displays of wealth such as consumerism and philanthropy. Ultimately, she creates a rich view of the Husaynid dynastic culture that will surprise many, and stimulate debate and further research among scholars of Ottoman Tunisia.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-75392-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS (pp. ix-x)
  4. NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CHRONOLOGY (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. PART I Family Foundations of Ottoman Rule
    • Introduction FAMILIES, HOUSEHOLDS, AND PALACE WOMEN IN EARLY MODERN COURT CULTURE (pp. 3-29)

      In the summer of 1776, the governor of Tunis celebrated the wedding of three of his children: his son Hammuda, his daughter Amina, and a second daughter (whose name is unknown).¹ For months before that, women in the family, their domestics, and slaves were busy gathering the various articles for the trousseaus of the two brides, including diverse clothing and decorative linens, much of which was embroidered with silver thread. As they prepared for the days of festivities, 400 loaves of bread were baked, 1,800ratlsof honey were transformed into impressive quantities ofzlabia(a sweet made of fried...

    • Chapter 1 FAMILY AND THE POLITICS OF MARRIAGE (pp. 30-50)

      By 1650, the household had become an important feature of Ottoman politics and a key institution in the training and recruitment of bureaucratic personnel. Instruction and patronage within the households of ministers rivaled earlier practices centered in the palace such as military training anddevşirme(slave recruitment) as they accommodated the increasing specialization of imperial administration.¹ A corresponding process took place on the provincial level that allowed for greater participation of local notables in provincial administration often dominated by a few families and their extended networks. Across the empire in the provinces of Cairo, Damascus, Mosul, Nablus, and Mount Lebanon,...

  8. PART II Family and Provincial Government, 1756–1840
    • Chapter 2 THE PROSPEROUS PALACE (pp. 53-78)

      When ʿAbd al-Basit ibn Halil, an Egyptian merchant and literati, visited Tunis in 1462, he dined at the Hafsid palace of Raʾs al-Tabia. Aside from the pleasant company, beautiful gardens, three-story palace, and marble fountain, his travel account (orrihla) carefully described one of the dishes calledmujabban, “which is an Andalusian cheese bread.”¹ If “kings and grandees in al-Andalus and the Maghrib” appreciated some of the same delicacies, according to a recipe for fowl in theKanz al-fawaʾid fi tanwiʿ al-maʾid, and there were two styles ofmujabbanin Ibn Razin’s thirteenth-century collection, the dishes were certainly known east...

    • Chapter 3 WOMEN’S WORLDS (pp. 79-108)

      The palace at Bardo was under constant renovations, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when it functioned as the political center. Built in the early fifteenth century, it was one of the Hafsid’s suburban retreats, with the Dar al-Bey in the center of Tunis serving official purposes. Slightly southwest of the capital, the Bardo’s expansive gardens, pavilions, and decorative fountains evoked Almohad and Andalusian palatial models, though the entire complex was surrounded by fortified walls and five towers.¹ The Bardo was confiscated by the Ottoman imperial troops who conquered Tunis in the sixteenth century and purchased from thediwan...

    • Chapter 4 BEYOND BARDO (pp. 109-122)

      The representation of power through wealth was meaningful only when these displays reached an attentive audience. The palace tribunal created one space for the presentation of beylical power as accessible instead of remote, where authority was personified by a bey who solved anyone’s problem. Even if provincial organization was decentralized with authority delegated to regional administrators, the beys marked their presence outside Bardo by the distribution of favors, the construction of public monuments, and the ubiquity of the palace personnel on the biannualmahalla.¹ As goods circulated beyond the palace walls, the governing family engaged the subject population by creating...

  9. PART III Nineteenth-Century Transformations
    • Chapter 5 THE CONSTITUTION, FINANCIAL REFORM, AND THE MODERN FAMILY (pp. 125-149)

      Though he had already reduced the number of troops because of difficulties paying their salaries, in 1853 Ahmad Bey decided to send a fleet to assist the sultan in the Crimean War (1853–1856). To fund the contingent, he dipped into his private treasury, handing his jewelry over to his agent in Europe to sell. His powerful mamluk minister, Mustafa Khaznadar, followed suit, including the jewelry of his wife, Kalthum (Ahmed Bey’s sister).¹ This event, where a sovereign would sell precious luxury goods to finance an army, captures the shifting dynamics of representing state power and the reorientation of government...

    • Chapter 6 INVENTING DYNASTIC TRADITIONS: FAMILY POLITICS OF FRENCH COLONIALISM (pp. 150-171)

      The 1861 constitution formalized the structural dependence of the family on the paternal authority of the bey, structures that were extended by the subjugation of the entire family under French colonialism. In May of 1881, a minor incident along the border with Algeria provided an opportunity for French warships to dock outside the capital, from where they delivered a treaty to the bey demanding continued trade privileges and the recognition of French suzerainty. This document inaugurated colonial rule by creating an official protectorate over the province, severing the bey’s ties to the Ottoman center. Wary of the sultan’s response, the...

  10. CONCLUSION (pp. 172-178)

    In January 2011 the international public discovered the corruption of Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali (1987–2011); his wife, Leila Trabelsi; and their respective families, who had monopolized the nation’s political and economic life for a substantial portion of his 23-year rule. In a number of respects, they perpetuated the worst attributes of a royal family: they built sumptuous palaces, flaunted their wealth, were immune to legal sanction, and used family connections for economic privileges.¹ In fact, before his deposition, many believed that Ben Ali was preparing to create a hereditary dynasty by passing on his position to his...

  11. Appendix 1 GENEALOGIES (pp. 179-185)
  12. Appendix 2 ANNUAL EXPENSE REGISTERS OF THE PALACE TREASURY (pp. 186-186)
  13. Appendix 3 INCOME AND EXPENDITURES OF THE BEY (pp. 187-188)
  14. NOTES (pp. 189-234)
  15. GLOSSARY (pp. 235-238)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 239-260)
  17. INDEX (pp. 261-269)