Dr. Ahmed Amara
Regime Change and Legal Transplantation: Property Law and the Transition from the Ottoman to the British Rule.
My research focuses on the legal geography of southern Palestine between 1917 and 1948, and it comes to add to my PhD dissertation research that examined the configuration of the Ottoman land reform in the Beersheba sub-district between 1850 and 1917. My current research seeks to investigate in particular the transitional period from the Ottoman to the British rule and how property law and ownership rules were integrated, adapted, mended or applied within the new geo-political reality under the Mandate. Though the British government claimed to had maintained the legal status quo in Palestine, including the 1858 Ottoman Land Code, few legal amendments to the Code led to major changes in the legal system. Several amendments continue to impact the socio-legal relations in the Beersheba region, the Negev as it is known today, especially with regards to Bedouin land claims. Similar to my research of the Ottoman period, I seek to investigate how the shifting understandings and categorizations of specific legal, spatial, and social realities by governmental and social actors, in particular viewing the community as “nomads” and the region as a “desert,” had shaped the legal order concerning landed property relations. Such categorizations relied mostly on inaccurate assumptions and stereotypes, which by its turn dictated the scope and quality of the research on the Arab Bedouin communities of the Negev. For example, their classification as pastoralists and/or as nomads undermined the study of land cultivation and the resulting socio-legal relations and ownership questions. Since governmental policies and land relations were always contingent on societal practices, my research also focuses on Bedouin responses to the legal reforms and their contribution to the evolving legal order. The research utilizes archival sources from Ottoman, British, Palestinian and Israeli archives alongside personal papers of local families.