Lecture and Book Launch- The politics of family law reform in Jordan and Morocco: Two seemingly similar monarchies, two different approaches

About the seminar:

Family law – the law regulating marriage, divorce, custody, polygyny and guardianship among others – is one of the most sensitive areas in Muslim-majority countries. Morocco and Jordan both issued new family codes in the 2000s, but there are a number of differences in the ways these two states engaged in reform. These include how the reform was carried out, the content of the new family codes, and the way the new laws are applied. In Morocco, the process of reform became less dominated by actors who had received religious training, whereas in Jordan the dāʾirat qāḍī al-quḍāt, the shariʿa court administration, retook control over family law reform. In Morocco it was King Muhammad VI who took the lead. By contrast, in Jordan King Abdullah II was largely absent from the reform process. The 2004 Moroccan code proclaims international law as one of its sources, whereas the preamble of the Jordanian 2010 law states that the law is based entirely on Islamic sources. Whereas international actors like UN Women were engaged in the implementation of the 2004 family code in Morocco, they did not play a similar role in Jordan. This talk investigates why similar states varied in their engagement with family law reform. It demonstrates that the structure of the legal systems, shaped by colonial policies, had an effect on how reform processes were carried out, and on the content and the application of the law. The talk draws attention to why and how certain inequalities have developed over time and how they impact on women’s and children’s rights today.

​About the speaker:

Dörthe Engelcke is a senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law. She received her PhD from St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, in 2015. She is the co-winner of the 2016 BRISMES Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for the best PhD dissertation on a Middle Eastern topic in the Social Sciences or Humanities awarded by a British University. Prior to coming to Oxford she completed an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. She has held fellowships at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School and the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, the Göttingen Institute of Advanced Study. Her research focuses on the interaction of law and society in the MENA region as well as questions of legal pluralism, Islamic law, and legal politics. She is a contributor to the Brill Encyclopedia of Law and Religion. Her work has appeared in Law & Social Inquiry and Islamic Law and Society. She is the author of “Reforming Family Law: Social and Political Change in Jordan and Morocco” (CUP, 2019).