Gender Relations and Inheritance: Person Power and Property in Palestine


Moors, Annelies. 1996. “Gender Relations and Inheritance: Person Power and Property in Palestine.” In Gendering the Middle East: Emerging Perspectives, edited by Deniz Kandiyoti, 69–84. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Author: Annelies Moors


This document, the fourth chapter in a book on emerging perspectives about gender and gender studies in the Middle East, argues that power/property relations in the Muslim Middle East can be illuminated by application of a gender perspective. The author illustrates this thesis with information gained through discussions with Palestinian women (during fieldwork in 1980) that challenged published theories about the direct relation between property and power. Thus, the chapter considers the specific positions women assume or find themselves in and looks at property as an indicator of a social relationship rather than as a material resource. The discussion opens with a summary of the legal systems that dictate ownership. The following specific circumstances are then described: 1) the reluctance of daughters with brothers to claim their share of inheritance, preferring instead to enhance the status of their brothers and to increase the level of obligation the brothers feel towards them; 2) the social problems faced by daughters of wealthy families who claim an inheritance; 3) the rights of single and elderly female family members to housing and maintenance; 4) daughters' inheritance of gold from their mothers; 5) the distress indicated when married women claim their inheritances; and 6) the special problems faced by widows with young children, especially urban widows. The chapter ends by noting that these examples indicate that a complex web of gendered social relations must be untangled to understand women's inheritance strategies in this region. (Popline)

Topics: Gender, Political Economies, Rights, Property Rights Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 1996

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