However, Peirce lets the broader political context of Ottoman rule take a back seat to the local conditions under which the court of Aintab would operate several decades after the city's incorporation into the Empire.
After examining the various ways in which the people of Aintab used (or failed to use) the Islamic court during this critical period, Peirce argues that Ottoman actors utilized multiple strategies in interacting with the court.
She frames the various aspects of the functioning of the court in Aintab through the cases of three women; Ine, Haciye Sabah, and Fatma.
Over the course of several chapters, Peirce goes on to illustrate the strategies of various women (and men) who appeared in the court records as they sought to defend their honor, manage their property, and react to increasing imperial attempts by outsiders to manage more closely the affairs of the local communities in Aintab and its surroundings.
In addition, since the kanun (as opposed to the Islamic religious) law was aimed more at dealing with the messy realities of life on the ground in various communities, its rulings and working are more important for understanding the interaction of community and court in places like Aintab.