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Of Sand or SoilGenealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia$
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Nadav Samin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164441

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164441.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Of Sand or Soil

Nadav Samin

Princeton University Press

This book examines why tribal genealogies continue to be a central facet of modern Saudi identity despite the erosion of kinship ties resulting from almost 300 years of religious conditioning, and despite the unprecedented material transformation of Saudi society in the oil age. It considers what accounts for the compulsion to affirm tribal belonging in modern Saudi Arabia by focusing on verse 49:13 of the Quran and the multiple contexts in which it is embedded in the kingdom. More specifically, the book asks why this verse is interpreted by so many Saudis as a license to assert their particularist tribal identities, while its ostensibly equalizing final clause is dismissed as an afterthought. It also explores the politicization of the Arabian oral culture by documenting the life and work of the Arabian genealogist and historian Hamad al-Jāsir.

Keywords:   tribal genealogy, Saudi identity, tribal belonging, Saudi Arabia, Quran, tribal identity, oral culture, Hamad al-Jāsir, kinship

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