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The Calligraphic State – Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society - California Scholarship Online
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The Calligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society

Brinkley Messick


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: ... More

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

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1992 Print ISBN-13: 9780520076051
Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012 DOI:10.1525/california/9780520076051.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Brinkley Messick, author