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Ethnic Business Entrepreneurship Among Urbanising Bedouin in the Negev, Israel

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The Bedouin of the Negev in Israel have been forced by the State to give up their agro-pastoral mode of subsistence, but were not offered any meaningful economic alternatives. Business has become one significant option. It is regarded here as 'ethnic entrepreneurship', as many traditional cultural and social traits are employed by them to survive within an entrepreneurial business environment that is highly constrained both externally and internally. This paper discusses the nature of these enterprises and entrepreneurs. A spatial and sociotribal analysis reveals no differences in these entities between the planned towns and the unrecognised informal settlements outside towns, but considerable differences were found between the fellahin Bedouin and the 'true' Bedouin which compete latently for sociopolitical and economic hegemony. The process of ethnic entrepreneurship bears implications for sub-ethnic internal relationships, for the Bedouin struggle to protect land to which they claim ownership from the State, and for the broader issue of ethnicity and business within the Bedouin community.
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Keywords: 'TRUE' BEDOUIN; BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT; ETHNICITY; FELLAHIN BEDOUIN; LAND; MARKET ECONOMY; TRADITIONAL PRACTICES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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  • Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples, scholars, researchers, planners and project administrators.
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