Sarah Ghabrial, PhD
Assistant Professor, History
Broadly, my research is concerned with questions of law and the management of social difference in colonial and postcolonial perspective, with a particular focus on nineteenth-century North Africa. My monograph in progress, based on my dissertation (McGill 2014), is a social and gender history of the French-colonial administration of Islamic "family law" in Algeria from 1870 to 1930. A central contribution of this project is to bring to light the ways in which colonial subjects, particularly women and girls, engaged with and at times shaped the process of judicial "modernization" through their litigation and appeals. In 2016, my dissertation was awarded the Canadian Historical Association's John Bullen Thesis Prize.
Through a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, which I held at Columbia University (2015-2017), I have been engaged in new research that traces the creation, administration, and demise of the "repressive tribunals" in colonial Algeria (1902-1931), a special criminal jurisdiction where summary justice was dispensed to Muslim subjects. This project aims, among other things, to bring archival depth to broad discussions on the relationship between race, law, security, counterinsurgency, and exception. In turn, and developing out of these interests, I am beginning to work on a new project that deals with the criminalization of mobility and the formation of modern (colonial and postcolonial) border-policing regimes in the Mediterranean.
Areas of research and supervision:
North Africa and Middle East (1800-present)
Imperialism and colonization (19th–20th c.)
Europe and Islam
Islamic law (social and subaltern histories of 'reform')
the 'family' in legal history
modern France and French Empire
race, violence, and exception
“Gender, Power, and Agency in Middle East History,” Roundtable on Gender as an Analytical Category in Middle East Studies, International Journal of Middle EastStudies 48. 3 (July 2016): 561-564.
“The Traumas and Truths of the Body: Medical Evidence and Divorce in Colonial Algerian Courts,” Journal ofMiddle East Women’s Studies 11.3 (Nov 2015): 283-305. [Winner:2014 JMEWS Graduate Student Paper Prize]
“Colonial Sisterhood: Les Soeurs Missionnaires de Notre-Dame d’Afrique and the ‘Regeneration of the Muslim Woman’ in Algeria, 1890-1920,” Genre et colonisation /Gender and Colonization 1.1 (Spring 2013): 56-97.
Introduction to Law and Society (ANTH-HIST-POLI-SOCI 285)
Islamic Law and Society (POLI-HIST 313)
Historical Theories/Methods (HIST 600)