Sami Bargaoui

«Quand dire, c'est faire», ou comment faire du rabâchage juridique une source historique

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  • Abstract

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Legal literature from the late Ottoman period has long been disregarded as a historical source. In fact, it has been considered as mere repetition of the great works of classical Islam, while often few or no clues allow us to contextualize its compositions. This article proposes a re-examination of a Tunisian juridical epistle from the 18th century, which bears no indication of context and has been considered as a typical example of imitation, characteristic of the culture of the time. By approaching it, not as the expression of some immutable Muslim culture, but as a speech act, an action, a performance of juridical authority, this paper tries to reconstruct the situation in which this utterance was performed. This will allow us to explore its possible meanings while broadening our understanding of the history of the regency of Tunis. This is an attempt to re-evaluate the interest of this kind of literature for historians while suggesting a way of dealing with libraries and archives of these times by considering them as collections of situated speech acts.

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