Kobi PeledJan 27, 2023
Words Like Daggers: The Political Poetry of the Negev Bedouin
For generations, the composition and recitation of poetry has been a key mode of expression among Bedouin populations in the Middle East, reflecting social norms, religious practices, relationships with the natural environment, and tribal histories and politics.
In Words Like Daggers: The Political Poetry of the Negev Bedouin (Brill, 2022), Kobi Peled, Professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, analyzes a corpus of poetry collected among the Bedouin of the Negev Desert over the past 100 years for themes of political resistance, dissidence, and reactions to the political changes facing the Negev Bedouin. The poems reveal how the Negev Bedouin responded to and perceived changes in state authority and rule from the late Ottoman period to the contemporary state of Israel. Peled argues that in addition to being a creative and artistic mode of expression, poetry and a close reading of Bedouin poetry can serve as a lens onto Bedouin worldviews, sentiments, and reactions to and participation in processes political formations and state-building undergone in the Negev region during the 20th century.
Maggie Freeman is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East.