Gianluca Paolo Parolin
Gianluca is Associate Professor of law at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations of the Aga Khan University (Intl) in London, UK. He previously taught at the American University in Cairo, and Cairo University, Egypt, from 2008 to 2015. He holds a PhD in Public Law from the University of Torino (2006). At ISMC, he is also the faculty lead on the Governance Programme.
Over the past few years, Gianluca has held visiting positions in New York, Rome, Tokyo, Trento, and Zurich.
Gianluca’s research interests heavily focus on Western Asia and North Africa. Within the broader field of comparative law, his current research focuses on the transformations of the semiotics of law, and fiqh pedagogy. Within the first cluster, Gianluca is engaging with two particular moments: an early articulation of a new semiotics for law and governance in Egypt in the 19th century (Tahtawi’s translation of the 1814 French Charter), and contemporary articulations of different semiotics of law in popular culture (current Egyptian Ramadan TV series).
Previously, he worked on dynamics of constitution-writing, institutional design, and unintended consequences of constitutions in the region, with particular attention to the Gulf.
Among his publications: Citizenship in the Arab World (Amsterdam 2009), and a collection of parallel-text translations from Arabic illustrating the transformations oJeudi f the semiotics of law in Egypt in the last two centuries (Comment parle-t-on du droit en Egypte ? (Etudes Arabes CXII), 2015).
Figures de la justice et du droit dans les séries télévisées égyptiennes
My paper explores the (rich) possibilities of studying the functioning of Egypt’s legal system through the extremely popular Ramadan television drama. This new approach allows a more rounded comprehension of the working of the legal system, away from the fictions of conventional law books. This new form of analysis and engagement with popular culture seems quite promising, well beyond Egypt’s borders.
Immensely popular and discussed at all social levels, Ramadan TV series double as both major creative works of screenwriting, and as cornerstones of Egyptian popular culture. Literary analysis will guide me in this exploration of the former side, while anthropologists have already started looking into the impact of the latter feature of popular culture on the creation of “new scales of communication and new dimensions of modern identity” (Armbrust 2000: 26; but also Armbrust 1996, Abu-Lughod 2004, Salamandra 2013). I suspect that when legal anthropologists will turn to Ramadan TV series, they will discover the extent of its centrality in the perception of the legal system and its working among the wider public. In my years of teaching law in Cairo, I also experienced that references to films or TV series were often employed even by law students to prove points during class discussions.
In the TV series considered, the switching between a “low” and a “high” variant of Arabic, or the insistence on class privilege or disadvantage make it particularly evident that those two elements prominently feature in the perception of the working of law enforcement. When considering law enforcement in Egypt, the grounded theories embedded in TV series provide a powerful counter-narrative to the fictions of law textbooks. Could one fully understand the working of law enforcement in Egypt without considering the authoritarian appropriation of law and its language by state authorities, or the privileges or disadvantages that belonging to an upper, middle, or lower class entails? The subsequent question for the observer interested in the working of law enforcement beyond Egypt would then be: diglossia and class awareness cause these two elements to be perceived more intensely in Egypt, but are they confined to Egypt?
Dans le cadre du Séminaire « Parcours anthropologiques dans le monde arabe (ethnographie, littérature, arts, archéologie, orientalisme) »
- Jeudi 3 mai 2018 de 17h à 20h, IISMM (1er étage, salle de réunion), 96 bd. Raspail 75006 Paris
Tester les limites du mariage religieux (et du divorce) dans la culture populaire: les séries télévisées égyptiennes renforcent et mettent au défi les tabous liés au mariage
Whereas the formal legal system tenaciously grips on the conventional articulation of religious marriage (and divorce) as a matter of public policy, Egyptian television drama engages with some of its fringe aspects, testing the boundaries of their social acceptability. A cornerstone of Egyptian popular culture, television drama is immensely popular, and generates discussion at all social levels.
The paper will look at two areas in which these major creative works of screenwriting challenge (and reinforce) taboos of the conventional articulation of religious marriage: inter-faith relations, and out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Marriage—and divorce—are topoi of television drama, but the paper will focus on a top current series (Sabe3 Gar, 2017-2018) that generated a public campaign to cancel the series, and unscheduled suspensions of its airing. In it, the three (female) screenwriters re-frame the taboo of inter-faith marriages within the broader hypocrisy of inter-faith social relations, and the non-denominational rules of gendered morality in Egyptian society. They also follow the social containment of the desire of motherhood of a young woman who has no desire to get married in order to become pregnant. Incidentally, discussing out-of-wedlock pregnancy on a television programme led to a 3-year jail sentence for the tv host in November 2017 on grounds of inciting immorality (art. 270 of the Egyptian penal code).
The paper considers how popular culture illuminates the remote corners of the dynamics between the conventional articulation of religious marriage, and social conventions. In both areas considered, the series shows how the conventional articulation could actually accommodate developments that are however socially resisted.
Dans le cadre du Master « Islamologie, Droit et Gestion »
- Vendredi 4 mai 2018, de 14h à 17h, MISHA (salle Table Ronde), Université de Strasbourg
The Vertigo Effect of an Empty Shell: Muwâtana from Woe to Fetish
The history of modern Islamic law is usually narrated along the lines of its displacement from the centre of the legal system (from the marginalisation of qadi jurisdictions onwards), or those of its reform devices (from the rejuvenation of Imperial fiqh theories downwards). The creeping hegemonic effects of the new Hartian paradigm on the modern articulations of Islamic law are often simply alluded to, and the allusions tend to be confined to legal hermeneutics. Yet, there are a few cases of contemporary Islamic law plainly appropriating elements of the Hartian paradigm—this is the case of muwāṭana (citizenship).
The paper follows how attitudes towards the concept changed since the early 20th century, from a principled rejection all the way to its full appropriation. In the process, the paper will focus on how the hegemonic consensus on what muwāṭana means was constructed, i.e. how its scope was significantly narrowed and mutilated. Looking into muwāṭana’s (now empty) shell, the paper explores the anxiety of Islamic law scholars looking into the abyss as they face the challenge of substantiating muwāṭana while staying true to their dogmas.
Dans le cadre de la journée d'étude « Histoire du droit islamique moderne » Séminaire d'Introduction au droit musulman (IISMM, EHESS)
- Jeudi 17 mai 2018, de 10h à 10h30 - Université Paris Descartes (salle des Thèses), 45 rue des Saint Pères 75006 Paris
Une nouvelle sémiotique du droit et de la gouvernance : la ‘traduction’ par al-Tahtawi de la Charte française de 1814
The chapter looks at how the language of Islamic law and Empire has been re-articulated when rendering the text of the 1814 French Charter in Arabic. The author, the kuttāb-then-Azhar-trained Egyptian scholar al-Ṭahṭāwī (1801-1873), heavily employed both while laying the foundations of what became the semiotics of Egyptian law of the 19th century (and beyond).
Al-Ṭahṭāwī’s linguistics was only instrumental to his final goal: rallying his audiences behind ‘his’ idea of hegemonic legal modernity, which he later summarised as manhaj al-sharʿ (rule of law). Through Islamic law, al-Ṭahṭāwī aimed at speaking to his fellow traditional intellectuals (already on the verge of marginalisation), and through Empire at his patron and his circle (not too keen on listening in this area). He also had something to say to French Orientalists: Arabic can be bent to modernity just as easily as French has.
The ‘translation’ of the Charter offers a privileged observation point on al-Ṭahṭāwī’s group and class politics, because it allows us to appreciate what he decided to translate, what to emphasise, what to omit, and what to add.
Dans le cadre du Séminaire « Droit musulman et sociétés islamiques prémodernes (VIIIe–XIXe siècles) »
- Mardi 22 mai 2018, de 17h à 19h - IISMM (1er étage, salle des étudiants), 96, Boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris