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'They Talk to Us but Never Listen to Us': Development-Induced Displacement among Syria's Bedouin

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The Bedouin constitute an important part of Syrian society, having pursued a nomadic way of life in the Syrian steppe (al-Badia) for centuries. However, since the 1960s, new challenges have emerged that threaten the Bedouin way of survival and their culture in Syria. Economic and environmental factors in addition to government policies have threatened desert culture and the traditional livelihoods of the Bedouin and have pushed them to give up their life in the desert and move to live on the outskirts of cities. Through a synthesis of ethnographic, economic, environmental and geographical data, this paper will explore changes among the Bedouin, with specific interest in how they relate to resettlement in terms of 'development-induced displacement'. The Bedouin in Syria, like mobile indigenous people all over the world, are facing a combination of challenges, from extreme climatic and environmental changes to increasing marginalisation and sedentarisation by the governments of the countries they live in. They also find it hard to influence policy-making in any projects initiated by international development agencies on their lands and migratory routes. This study will shed light on the policies of the Syrian government and international development agencies in dealing with the Bedouin in Syria and investigate how these policies have contributed to Bedouin settlement.
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Keywords: Bedouin; Syria; displacement

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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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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