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Can a Local Descent Group Become an International Network? Research on the Rashāyidah in Five Countries

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Local descent groups that all have the name – Rashāyidah – are found in many places in the eastern Arab world. There is evidence that at least some of these groups originated in northwest-ern Arabia, where some of their ancestors lived centuries ago. More significantly, many of them have recently become aware of each other’s existence. Some are constructing a historical and genealogical narrative about common out-migration from Arabia. This narrative does more than explain why they share the same name; it also (re)constructs the kinship bonds that link them. Research has begun in Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan to explore this process of “awakening” to a common past. Nine researchers are collecting ethnographic and linguistic data about six different Rashāyidah groups and the various localities where they live. The researchers will describe the relationships of each group with its neighbors and will explore the motivations for adopting a new, diasporic, identity while at the same time re-working the de-tails of their established tribal and national identities.

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