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Empire, State and the Bedouin of the Middle East, Past and Present: A Comparative Study of Land and Settlement Policies

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The Bedouin of the Middle East have been one of the region's most marginalized groups in modern times. This study assesses the interplay between state policies and the Bedouin in the last 150 years, from a comparative standpoint. We examine the development of land laws in the Middle East as they have affected the Bedouin, from the enactment of the Ottoman land laws of 1858 up to the present. Moreover we explore whether the land laws and the fate of the Bedouin are associated with the characteristics of the regime in each country. We find that the imposition of land laws and policies directed at nomadic and sedentarizing Bedouins has depended on disparate factors such as the origins of the leadership of countries (i.e. Bedouin or non-Bedouin) and the social and economic models embraced. Regimes with origins in the tribal-Bedouin fabric of the Middle East have pursued land policies that were favorable to the Bedouin, whereas regimes drawing their strength from urban elites and with socialist outlooks encouraged very different policies. We also consider whether the case of the Bedouin in Israel is unique or reflects a larger regional context.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2012

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