Lecture delivered by professor Brian Messick for the Department of History and Cultural Studies at Freie Universität.
My recent book, Sharīʿa Scripts: A Historical Anthropology (Columbia. 2018), offers an interdisciplinary account of a locally situated “formation” of Islamic legal texts, including both doctrinal works, such as law books, and also archival writings, from court transcripts to routine documents, such as contracts. My talk will survey the book’s ethnographic foundations, foregrounding people and research relations in Yemen--the human backdrop for sources and insights. The further emphasis will be on appropriate methods for a new type of analytic reader: a humanistic social scientist.