This dissertation examines indigenous Arab Bedouin legal struggles for land ownership in the Negev area in Israel. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the question of land ownership has been central to relations between Negev Bedouins and the state. The courts have rejected Bedouin claims for land ownership, declaring Negev lands as belonging to the state.
This study examined the historical Bedouin connection to land in the Negev, with emphasis on the evolution of customary practices of land ownership from the second half of the 19th century until the second half of the 20th century. The validity of Bedouin law in present Bedouin society is considered, as well as the meanings of land for Bedouin land claimants. In addition, clashes between Negev Bedouin law and Israeli law are considered in defining land ownership rights in the Israeli court.
Located in the discipline of anthropology, the theoretical frames for this study are indigenous people studies and postcolonial theories. The methodologies are participatory research and ethnography. Data sources included interviews with 15 Bedouin land claimants and 3 former Israeli officials, 9 visits to Bedouin villages, observations of 5 academic events regarding the land dispute, and primary documents from various state archives. In addition, a case study was conducted of one litigated land dispute between Bedouin land claimants and Israeli authorities.
In contrast to the traditional representations of the Bedouins as "rootless nomads," the results of this study indicate a strong connection of Bedouin participants to land in the Negev. The findings suggest that Bedouin society in the Negev includes practices of land ownership, and that their customary land ownership is valid in present Bedouin society. The legal conflict reflects clashes between Israeli legal practices and Bedouin indigenous oral practices, and has also been shaped by the national conflict between Israel as a Jewish state and the Bedouins as part of the Arab Palestinian minority.
|Commitee:||Abu-Saad, Ismael, Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne|
|School:||California Institute of Integral Studies|
|Department:||Social and Cultural Anthropology|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Cultural anthropology, Middle Eastern Studies|
|Keywords:||Bedouins, Customary law, Indigenous people studies, Israel, Land rights, Postcolonial theories|
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