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The Arab East and the Bedouin Component in Modern History: Emerging Perspectives on the Arid Lands as a Social Space

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In this paper we argue that historians of the eastern Arab lands (Ar. al-mashriq al-ʿarabī) should turn their attention to the Bedouins for two main reasons. First, the societies in the Arab East cannot be adequately understood without a full evaluation of their Bedouin component, especially outside urban areas. Second, studying the Bedouins can open new perspectives on important debates in Middle Eastern historiography. The paper further contends that the arid lands of the Arab East still need to be explored as a historical region with its own distinct patterns of regional connectivity and political organisation. Finally, we highlight environmental history and the study of emic categories as promising avenues for future research on this region.

Affiliations: 1: University of Tü; 2: University of Tü; 3: Orient-Institut


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