Marriage (and related questions of divorce, inheritance, custody, and maintenance) was the most important trigger of nationality law jurisprudence in Alexandria. Breakdowns in private life drove litigants into a formal legal sphere that had taken the place of local and non-state adjudication. Many of these litigants were reluctant to concede sovereignty on the basis of nationality; others were eager to explore the limits of nationality-based claims. Here more than anywhere, the new legal technology of private international law struggled to corral human diversity. This chapter shows how lines of gender, sect, and class revealed nationality’s inconsistencies and the improvised nature of its practice.
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