Custodians of Descent: The House, the Church, and the Family Waqf in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Church property
home ownership
old city

This article examines a conflict within the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem between the Greek hierarchy and the Palestinian laity over property. Connecting historical scholarship with ethnography from the Old City of Jerusalem, it demonstrates how Orthodox ownership was transformed by the Ottoman definition of Church property as a family waqf. This legal change led Greeks and Palestinians to express their property rights in the idiom of custodianship: the ability to hold and transmit property as descendants of the Church. As a result, ownership in the Orthodox community became less tied to legal title and increasingly aligned with claims of kinship and descent.

Author biography: 

Clayton Goodgame is a postdoctoral fellow in anthropology at the London School of Economics, where he examines property relations, kinship, and religious politics in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He would like to thank Beshara Doumani and Paul Kohlbry for inviting him to the workshop from which this article emerged and for their feedback on an early draft, Rashid Khalidi for his insightful comments as discussant, and JQ editor Alex Winder along with the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments and suggestions.