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Power, Person, and Place: Tradition, Modernity, and Environment in the United Arab Emirates

Ouis, Pernilla LU (2002) In Lund Studies in Human Ecology 4.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingen undersöker naturumgängets modernisering i Förenade Arabemiraten, en federation av sju shejkdömen på den arabiska sidan av Persiska Viken. De traditionella näringarna var handel, pastoralism, fiske och pärlfiske, men dessa har sedan 1960-talet ersatts av en ekonomi baserad på export av fossila bränslen. Landet har under kort tid övergått från att vara ett traditionellt beduinsamhälle till en ultramodern stat. Avhandlingen speglar de förändringsprocesser som skett i relation till naturen från ett socialkonstruktivistiskt perspektiv. Titeln - Power, Person, and Place - anspelar på tre temata som undersöks. Det första temat (Pearls and Petroleum: The Power of Nature) undersöker social... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingen undersöker naturumgängets modernisering i Förenade Arabemiraten, en federation av sju shejkdömen på den arabiska sidan av Persiska Viken. De traditionella näringarna var handel, pastoralism, fiske och pärlfiske, men dessa har sedan 1960-talet ersatts av en ekonomi baserad på export av fossila bränslen. Landet har under kort tid övergått från att vara ett traditionellt beduinsamhälle till en ultramodern stat. Avhandlingen speglar de förändringsprocesser som skett i relation till naturen från ett socialkonstruktivistiskt perspektiv. Titeln - Power, Person, and Place - anspelar på tre temata som undersöks. Det första temat (Pearls and Petroleum: The Power of Nature) undersöker social relationer i utvinningen av naturresurser. Upp till 1930-talet var den emiratiska ekonomin dominerad av pärlhandel, för att ersättas av oljehandel. Ekonomin analyseras i termer av beroende och politisk makt. Teorier om värde, extraktiv ekonomi och ojämnt utbyte diskuteras i relation till pärlor och olja. Finns det något objektivt fundament för värde såsom materia och energi? Analysen syftar till visa att naturresurser är sammanlänkade med sociala relationer och placerar det emiratiska samhället i en större global och historisk kontext. Det andra temat (From Camels to Cadillacs: Nature as Person) undersöker den förändrade relationen med kamelen (dromedaren) som ett modernitetens index. Kamelen hade en central betydelse för beduinernas traditionella livsstil och föreställningsvärld. Den ekonomiska motiven för att hålla kameler har försvunnit för de numera bofasta beduinerna, men kamelkapplöpning har istället införts. En ny vetenskap har utvecklats i anslutning till denna sport. Det nya förhållningssättet till kamelen förstås i termer av objektifiering och distansiering. Det sista temat (The nature of Nature: Practice, Politics, and Place) diskuterar naturen som en arena för identitet och politik. Det nya naturumgänget innebär en reflexiv attityd till naturen som en abstrakt kategori separat från den omedelbart upplevda livsvärlden. De mentala, sociala och materiella aspekterna av den moderna konstruktionen av naturen utreds. Processerna att gröna landet med olika planteringsprojekt och en ny miljöprofil analyseras i termer av ideologi och konstruktion av glokal plats, dvs som involverar både globala och distinkt lokala element. (Less)
Abstract
The thesis investigates human-environmental relations in the rapidly modernizing United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven Arabian Gulf sheikhdoms. Since its establishment in 1971, the UAE has been transformed from a subsistence society based mainly on pastoralism and maritime activities (fishing, pearling, and trade) into an ultramodern society, with an economy based on the export of fossil fuels. This study examines certain aspects of these processes of change from a social constructionist perspective. The title -Power, Person, and Place - alludes to the three main themes of the investigation. The first theme (Pearls and Petroleum: The Power of Nature) investigates the Emirati economy, which has been based on the extraction of natural... (More)
The thesis investigates human-environmental relations in the rapidly modernizing United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven Arabian Gulf sheikhdoms. Since its establishment in 1971, the UAE has been transformed from a subsistence society based mainly on pastoralism and maritime activities (fishing, pearling, and trade) into an ultramodern society, with an economy based on the export of fossil fuels. This study examines certain aspects of these processes of change from a social constructionist perspective. The title -Power, Person, and Place - alludes to the three main themes of the investigation. The first theme (Pearls and Petroleum: The Power of Nature) investigates the Emirati economy, which has been based on the extraction of natural resources: pearls up to the 1930s, followed by petroleum in the 1960s. The economy is analyzed in terms of dependency and political power, and the notions of value, extractive economy and unequal exchange are discussed. Is there any objective foundation of value such as energy and matter? The analysis places Emirati society in a wider global and historical context, acknowledging that natural resources are fundamentally interconnected with social relations. The second theme (From Camels to Cadillacs: Nature as Person) examines people’s changing relationship to camels as an index of modernity. In the pastoral society, the camels were perceived as persons, and they played an essential role in the traditional lifestyle, folklore and religion. While the economic motivation for keeping camels has vanished for today’s settled Bedouins, camel races, accompanied by a new camel science, have been introduced. The new approach to the animals is understood in terms of an increasing objectification and distanciation. The final theme (The nature of Nature: Practice, Politics, and Place) is nature as an arena of identity and politics. An altered relationship to the environment, it is argued, introduces a modern reflexivity about nature as an abstract category distinct from the immediate lifeworld. The mental, social and material aspects of the modern construction of the Emirati nature are elaborated. The process of greening the emirates involves an emerging environmentalism here analyzed in terms of ideology and the glocal construction of place, i.e. involving both global as well as distinctively local elements. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
opponent
  • Professor Friedman, Jonathan, Social Anthropology, Lund University
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
ecological modernization, environmentalism, phenomenology, Bedouin identity, camel pastoralism, dependency, theories of value, unequal exchange, extractive economy, oil, pearls, social constructionism, Islam, modernization, United Arab Emirates, Human Ecology, glocalization, reflexivity., Social geography, Socialgeografi
in
Lund Studies in Human Ecology
volume
4
pages
418 pages
publisher
Human Ecology Division, Lund University
defense location
Kulturens Auditorium, Lund
defense date
2002-09-30 10:15
ISSN
1403-5022
ISBN
91-628-5352-X
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3c7a632c-73af-4e3c-bd49-11715a6b541b (old id 20454)
date added to LUP
2007-05-28 09:02:18
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:58
@phdthesis{3c7a632c-73af-4e3c-bd49-11715a6b541b,
  abstract     = {The thesis investigates human-environmental relations in the rapidly modernizing United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven Arabian Gulf sheikhdoms. Since its establishment in 1971, the UAE has been transformed from a subsistence society based mainly on pastoralism and maritime activities (fishing, pearling, and trade) into an ultramodern society, with an economy based on the export of fossil fuels. This study examines certain aspects of these processes of change from a social constructionist perspective. The title -Power, Person, and Place - alludes to the three main themes of the investigation. The first theme (Pearls and Petroleum: The Power of Nature) investigates the Emirati economy, which has been based on the extraction of natural resources: pearls up to the 1930s, followed by petroleum in the 1960s. The economy is analyzed in terms of dependency and political power, and the notions of value, extractive economy and unequal exchange are discussed. Is there any objective foundation of value such as energy and matter? The analysis places Emirati society in a wider global and historical context, acknowledging that natural resources are fundamentally interconnected with social relations. The second theme (From Camels to Cadillacs: Nature as Person) examines people’s changing relationship to camels as an index of modernity. In the pastoral society, the camels were perceived as persons, and they played an essential role in the traditional lifestyle, folklore and religion. While the economic motivation for keeping camels has vanished for today’s settled Bedouins, camel races, accompanied by a new camel science, have been introduced. The new approach to the animals is understood in terms of an increasing objectification and distanciation. The final theme (The nature of Nature: Practice, Politics, and Place) is nature as an arena of identity and politics. An altered relationship to the environment, it is argued, introduces a modern reflexivity about nature as an abstract category distinct from the immediate lifeworld. The mental, social and material aspects of the modern construction of the Emirati nature are elaborated. The process of greening the emirates involves an emerging environmentalism here analyzed in terms of ideology and the glocal construction of place, i.e. involving both global as well as distinctively local elements.},
  author       = {Ouis, Pernilla},
  isbn         = {91-628-5352-X},
  issn         = {1403-5022},
  keyword      = {ecological modernization,environmentalism,phenomenology,Bedouin identity,camel pastoralism,dependency,theories of value,unequal exchange,extractive economy,oil,pearls,social constructionism,Islam,modernization,United Arab Emirates,Human Ecology,glocalization,reflexivity.,Social geography,Socialgeografi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {418},
  publisher    = {Human Ecology Division, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Studies in Human Ecology},
  title        = {Power, Person, and Place: Tradition, Modernity, and Environment in the United Arab Emirates},
  volume       = {4},
  year         = {2002},
}