Accepted paper:

Rejecting Authenticity: Development Processes in the Jiddat il-Harasiis


Dawn Chatty (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the developmental processes, both national and international, which have been used to reject the claims of authenticity of the pastoral nomads of the central desert of Oman. Surrounded by Western biodiversity protection schemes and multi-national oil exploitation, these communities are gradually being dislocated, displaced and dispossessed.

Paper long abstract:

The pastoral nomads of Oman have been, for centuries, the sole human inhabitants of the country's central desert. Mobility over the vast and largely inhospitable rock and gravel plain has been the principle feature of their livelihood focused on camel transport and latterly on trucks. Recent decades in Oman have seen increasing efforts by government, international conservation agencies and multi-national extractive industries to re-describe and classify this land as 'terra nullius'. Efforts to move these peoples out of their encampments, to settle them in government housing, and to turn them into cheap day laborers all point to the rejection of these peoples' claims of belonging to the landscapes of the desert. This paper examines these developmental processes and explores the ways in which the pastoral nomads have responded by becoming more mobile, by adapting their living and herding arrangements, and by silently resisting efforts to reject their authenticity.

panel MMM12
Lost in mutation: pastoral development rhetoric of the third millennium (IUAES Commission on Nomadic Peoples)