European Muslim Spouses Tying and Untying the Knot

Bringing into focus the tying and untying of the matrimonial knot, this project adopts a pluralistic legal-anthropological approach and follows a comparative method. More specifically, the study is intended to shed light on how diverse official rules and unofficial schemas of action can be de facto combined as a matter of agency and inter-normativity.

Adopting a comparative legal pluralist perspective and relying upon social science research methods, this work investigates the socio-legal agency of Muslim spouses living in Europe and the challenges faced by domestic administrative and judicial bodies in coping with increasingly super-diverse and pluralized societies. The study focuses on European Muslim communities interacting with different socio-legal orders, including common law and civil law systems, particularly in the UK and Italy.

On the one hand, the study zooms in on the highly variegated nuptial patterns and manifold matrimonial paradigms existing at the crossroads of state laws and sharīʿah-inspired legal orders in Italy, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales. This analysis aims to unveil and disentangle the factors – including power imbalances and intersectionality – behind the incessant development and undertaking of creative marriage forms.

On the other hand, the project addresses pathological aspects of horizontal familial relationships in the contemporary polycentric socio-legal scenario. Accordingly, (potentially) competing (extra)judicial remedies to injustice are investigated and compared to Muslim/Islamic options aimed at resolving family disputes and dissolving nuptial ties.

Recent related publications

Sona, Federica. 2020. “Reformulating transnational Muslim families: The case of sharīʿah-compliant child marriages.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs: 1–20.

Sona, Federica. 2018. “‘Mosque marriages’ and nuptial forms among Muslims in Italy.” Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 7(3): 519–543.

Sona, Federica. 2018. “Interfaith marriages across the Mediterranean Sea: Spouses sailing between state law and sharīʿah.” Journal of Mediterranean Studies 27(2): 173–190.

Related project

Pending amendments of matrimonial laws and religious groups, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), School of Advanced Study, University of London (UK).

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