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The New Rise of Tribalism in Saudi Arabia

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This paper explores the new relationship between tribe and state in Saudi Arabia as well as the position of tribes within Saudi society. It is based on anthropological fieldwork in the area and an analysis of online discussion boards. It is argued that a new generation of tribal members has emerged who express their tribal identity through new forms of communication, aiming at a reinterpretation of the tribes' social and political role in the kingdom.
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Keywords: Saudi Arabia; Tribalism; asabiya (tribal solidarity); identity; social contract

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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