The Bedouin
November 27, 2011 9:58 PM   Subscribe

The Bedouin are an ethnic group of tribes that live in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Sinai Peninsula, amongst others. The Bedouin have lived a largely nomadic life, developing a menu, style of dance and sport they can call their own. Today they are a culture in transition as "startling changes over the last two decades have irrevocably altered the nature of life for the bedouin and for the land they inhabit." However a glimpse into their past can be seen through this great collection of images taken between 1890 and 1920.
posted by Effigy2000 (12 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for this post!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:47 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Camels milk by the way has vitamin C and offers many health benefits.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:56 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shocking to see this post, as someone who has admired the bedouins since I first came in contact with the culture. One of the few Westerners to truly live amongst the bedouins was Muhammad Asad, who essentially accepted them as one of their own. Reading his book Road to Mecca would enlighten you about both Islam and the desert life.
posted by haroon at 12:25 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, I am not a fan of Project Joshua.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:59 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are Bedouin in the Negev as well. For the moment anyway. Under a plan approved by the Israeli cabinet just last month tens of thousands of Bedouin will be relocated from unrecognized villages "into communities with official status."
posted by three blind mice at 1:18 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Camels milk by the way has vitamin C and offers many health benefits.

Pity about the taste.
posted by atrazine at 1:21 AM on November 28, 2011


It's considered a big compliment to be taken to be Bedu. Years ago, I worked on a documentary in Luxor, and the Egyptian grad student on the project was vey chuffed when someone asked him if he was Bedouin.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:50 AM on November 28, 2011


Related.
posted by lathrop at 4:32 AM on November 28, 2011


There are Bedouin in the Negev as well. For the moment anyway. Under a plan approved by the Israeli cabinet just last month tens of thousands of Bedouin will be relocated from unrecognized villages "into communities with official status."

On my Birthright Israel trip, a night in a Bedouin tent was considered "party night" by most of the young people I was traveling with. We were encouraged to sneak in alcohol by the trip organizers. I know that renting out the space probably brought in much-needed money for the family that provided the experience, but I found it unbelievably disrespectful.

I'm not surprised by the above development, but I am still saddened.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:21 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Bedouin also live in Egypt, with one of the classic ethnographies, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society, doing an excellent job of capturing the changing nature of the culture, particularly the role and status of women. It is also, not coincidentally, an amazing book I constantly recommend, even to my non-anthropologist friends.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:28 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The photos are very romantic, but those goats are probably the reason for the arid landscape. Goats are notorious for eating shrubs and young trees that protect and bind the soil, and nomads have little reason to preserve the environment. It's a classic tragedy of the commons: if they leave feed behind it will only nourish someone else's animals. The area was always arid, but it used to be used agriculturally - they even had vineyards. Now it's just sand and rubble.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:43 PM on November 28, 2011


Actually, Bedu moved about quite a bit, they had their own set territories, marked off by piles of stone. They did actually watch the condition of their pastures and move about, usually following rains.
Where over-grazing comes into play, it's usually because the Bedu are unable to cross the borders of the various artificially created nation-states. Actually if people can move about, the impact of either goats or sheep is lessened greatly. Camels keep moving, they don't take a whole plant. They take a bit from one and move on to the next. Thus forces the herder to also move the goats and sheep.
Camels which have people are not environmentally destructive. Large numbers of feral camels are another matter. Feral camels notoriously foul wells, and generally wreak havoc in search of water.
'Veiled Sentiments' is really a good book. It gives a lot of insight into especially, the lives of women.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:46 AM on November 29, 2011


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