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New Identity/Identities Formulation in a Post-Nomadic Community: The Case of the Bedouin of the Negev

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Research conducted by the author in the mid-1990s found that while the bedouin culture and lifestyle in Israel's Negev Desert has been altered significantly as community members were resettled in stone houses, surrendered their camels for automobiles and entered the wage labour workforce, an expressed 'bedouin' identity remained strong. Indeed, it was found that rather than integrate the bedouin into the Jewish-Israeli social mainstream, coerced settlement only served, if anything, to Arabise and Islamicise communal identity. Using evidence gathered in 2000 in the planned bedouin town of Segev Shalom/Shqeb, this study serves as a follow-up analysis of more recent changes found in bedouin identity formulation. The data will reveal that 'bedouin' identity remains, but that it is on the slow decline. In its place, two new identity/identities matrices have formed: the Arab/Palestinian/Muslim matrix and the bedouin/Israeli matrix. It will be shown that these expressed identity/identities matrices are not randomly chosen or expressed, but rather have evolved out of the social, economic and political environments within which the settled Negev bedouin community is situated.

Keywords: Arabicisation; Islamicisation; Negev bedouin; Palestinian Israelis; former nomads; identity formulation; sedentarisation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Philadelphia University USA

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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