The Naqab Bedouins: A Century Of Politics And Resistance

The Naqab Bedouins: A Century Of Politics And Resistance

Mansour Nasasra

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Conventional wisdom positions the Bedouins in southern Palestine and under Israeli military rule as victims or passive recipients. In The Naqab Bedouins, Mansour Nasasra rewrites this narrative, presenting them as active agents who, in defending their community and culture, have defied attempts at subjugation and control. The book challenges the notion of Bedouin docility under Israeli military rule and today, showing how they have contributed to shaping their own destiny.

The Naqab Bedouins represents the first attempt to chronicle Bedouin history and politics across the last century, including the Ottoman era, the British Mandate, Israeli military rule, and the contemporary schema, and document its broader relevance to understanding state-minority relations in the region and beyond. Nasasra recounts the Naqab Bedouin history of political struggle and resistance to central authority. Nonviolent action and the strength of kin-based tribal organization helped the Bedouins assert land claims and call for the right of return to their historical villages. Through primary sources and oral history, including detailed interviews with local indigenous Bedouins and with Israeli and British officials, Nasasra shows how this Bedouin community survived strict state policies and military control and positioned itself as a political actor in the region.


In The Naqab Bedouins, Nasasra uncovers marvelous material that illuminates the history of the Bedouins of southern Palestine and challenges prevailing understandings of their politics and social experiences. The long historical perspective that takes us from Ottoman times to the present relies on Nasasra's prodigious original research and superb documentation to present a comprehensive and detailed picture of this Bedouin community struggling against state power. -- Lila Abu-Lughod, Joseph L. Buttenweiser Professor of Social Science, Columbia University

What makes Nasasra's study of the Bedouins in Israel especially interesting is the close parallel with the experience of Bedouin communities throughout the Middle East. Refreshingly, he avoids romanticizing the Bedouins while focusing on their resistance as an indigenous people to policies that are, in effect, if not always in design, anti-nomadic. His comparative, historicized approach, moreover, offers an intriguing entry to wider debates about different forms of nationalism and identity in Arab societies. -- Yezid Sayigh, senior fellow, Carnegie Middle East Center

A book like no other. Nasasra tells the riveting story of the Palestinian Bedouins of the Naqab and Bi?r al-Saba? from the late Ottoman era until today, opening up a new vista for understanding the place of indigeneity in the Middle East and highlighting resistance and power relations that shadow the lives of the Naqab Bedouins. Particularly strong is his discussion on indigeneity scholarship in reference to international law. Nasasra has not just written a book on Bedouins―he has given a voice to the most marginalized among the Palestinians in Israel. -- Larbi Sadiki, Qatar University

Historically and analytically rich. . . . Adds considerably to scholarly understanding of the Bedouin both in Mandate-era Palestine and the state of Israel. -- Kristian Coates Ulrichsen ― 
International Affairs

An important contribution [that] provide[s] a comprehensive account, temporally and thematically, of the Bedouin communities of the Naqab area. . . . I strongly recommend this book. -- Ahmad Amara ― 
International Journal of Middle East Studies

Readable and well-sourced. . . . Nasasra shows that the Bedouin community has constantly challenged power. -- Dina Matar ― 
LSE Middle East Centre Blog

This is the most comprehensive existing survey of the Bedouin Arab tribes of the Naqab desert in southern Palestine over the last century...[A] must read for anyone eager to look beyond the usual stereotypes and socio-political assumptions concerning the medium of colonial and post-colonial resistance. -- Abdullah Drury ― 
The Muslim World Book Review

A welcome challenge to the conventional wisdom that the Bedouin in southern Palestine were passive victims under Israeli military rule. . . . Recommended. ― 

The Naqab Bedouins is a well-documented ethnohistory that provides an overview of the past events and people that have come to define popular Bedouin history in the twenty-first century. -- Emilie Le Febvre ― Anthropos

Mansour Nasasra is a senior lecturer in Middle East politics and international relations in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He previously taught at the University of Exeter. Nasasra is coeditor of The Naqab Bedouin and Colonialism: New Perspectives (2015) and the Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities (2020).

This book is also available in Arabic - Click Here

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