On the transformation of Bedouin society in Jordan

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on February 23rd, 2010 in Arabia

Here’s an interesting and well-referenced analysis on the social transformations of Bedouin society in Jordan spanning 150 years from the middle of the XIXth society until today, from Rami Zurayk’a blog Land and People. Rami teaches at the Faculty of Agriculture of the American University of Beirut (my alma mater).

7 Responses to “On the transformation of Bedouin society in Jordan”

  1. Thanks Edouard for providing this link. Mr. Zurayk’s blog is very interesting and also sad. One of my great surprises (in my naivety) on my 1996 trip to the Middle East was while flying to Amman. On the plane I was sitting next to a Jordanian woman doctor and told her how truly excited and happy I was to have the opportunity to be visiting Bedouin tribes. She was appalled and made very condescending remarks about the bedouin. I was very surprised at her attitude.

    It is truly sad what has happened to the Bedouin in Jordan. As I read Mr. Zurayk’s blog I pondered what will bode in the long term future for the Tai and Shammar that I visited in Syria? They seemed to have a working relationship with the government when I was there but things can change over time.

    I remember Shaikh Humeidi of the Shammar expressing his concern for being able to always continue their lifestyle while being very realistic as to what was going on in the world. I sensed a kind of caution in his (translated) words, caution laced with lament. Even though I do not speak Arabic, just hearing the rich baritone, theatrical like quality of the mood in his words told the story before I even heard the translation.

  2. Dear Edouard

    Thanks for linking this post! As a lover of Arabian horses, I wonder if you have read the recent novel by Ibrahim Nasrallah “The time of the white horses” (in Arabic zaman al khuyul al baida’) about the relationship between fellaheen, Bedouins and horses in Palestine. Regards. Rami Zurayk

  3. Indeed the overwhelmig majority of non-Bedouin Arabs view Bedouins in the same way as this woman, with a mixture of fear and contempt.

  4. Hi Rami, I haven’t, but I will make sure I will. Keep blogging, please, I am a fan and so are a lot of folks here in DC!

  5. I agree; I have bookmarked this blog to follow. Thank you for the information!

  6. Very interesting. As a descendant of a member of one of the indigenous people of North America, I have heard direct stories from my grandfather, of young Indian men, riding their ponies down the Louis and Clark trail, in the late 19th early 20th century, trying to barter for a cow which died of unknown causes, because their people were starving on the reservations established by white invaders of indian territories.

    Those with power always have the final say over the lives over those without power. Such power occasionally improves the lives of those without the ability to resist, but often not without a great price being paid by those who are without parity.

  7. well, wait to read the stories of how the French and English colonial powers in Syria and Iraq pounded Bedouin tribes with airstrikes to prevent them from crossing borders, which were no more than virtual straight lines drawn across the steppe..

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