Abstract

The Bedouin have been exoticized as nomads and essentialized as representatives of segmentary lineage organization and tribalism. This essay shows more complex and multifaceted existences and argues that "Bedouin" has changed from denoting a way of life in the past to marking an identity today. A multi-sited perspective presents socioeconomic and sociopolitical change among Bedouin from Algeria to Saudi Arabia and includes colonial impacts, commercialization of pastoral production, occupational change, and sedentarization. Bedouin involvement in tourism and the manufacture of Bedouin heritage for sale as a commodity and as a component of (some) Arab national heritages are also discussed. The coexistence of segmentation, markets, states, and Islam is stressed, with class divisions now becoming predominant. A concern with Middle Eastern ethnography in general, largely implicit, runs throughout the text.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1518
Print ISSN
0003-5491
Pages
pp. 235-267
Launched on MUSE
2003-05-15
Open Access
No
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