Accepted paper:

Straight Egyptians, desert-bred and Asil Arabians: purity, nobility, beauty and performance. The world of contemporary purebred Arabian horse breeders in Egypt


Christoph Lange (University of Cologne)

Paper short abstract:

The paper follows the path into the transnational scene of Arabian horse breeders, whose members form a global gift exchange community where at its constitutional centre the Arabian horse is both beloved object of desire & embodied inscription of the breeders' (aesthetic) ideals.

Paper long abstract:

Through industrial and technological advancement, horses have largely lost their economic importance, they were replaced by motorized means of transport long ago. However unbowed seems the symbolic dimension: In the West as well as in the Arab region the horse as a symbol for gracefulness, strength, power and sovereignty hasn't lost any of its brilliance. On the contrary, in the new world of global leisure and entertainment industry, it has maintained its traditional status and furthermore found new roles as acrobat, artist, athlete and beloved object of desire. The fascination for these animals is still extremely vital. The paper based on my current ethnological PhD research project of the purebred breeding of asil (Arab. noble, authentic, genuine) Arabian horses and aims to investigate the interactional field of horses and humans. The research is conceived as an ethnographic study and attempts on the one hand to reconstruct the unique places, stages and processes of negotiation, which are significant for the social construction and performative staging of the asil Arabian as a living sculpture. On the other hand, it tries to focus on the community of breeders, traders, trainers and horse lovers as a unique global acting culture of transnational gift exchange, whose constitutive element is the corporate work on and with the horse. Starting point for this endeavor will be the local setting of Egypt's Arabian horse breeders and their connections into the global world of Arabian horse breeding industry.

panel P093
The meaning of horses: perspectives on intra-species communicative becoming