ME12
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Exploring 50 years of livelihood and landscape changes in arid land oases in the Middle East: Re-studying the ethnographic collections of human geographers and cultural anthropologists

Convenors:
Hiroshi Nawata (Akita University)
Ryuichi Hara (Daito Bunka University)
Chair:
Hiroshi Nawata & Ryuichi Hara
Stream:
Methodology
Start time:
Session slots:
0

Short abstract:

The panel examines 50 years of livelihood and landscape changes experienced by people living in arid land oases in the Middle East by comparing ethnographic datasets of photographs and maps collected by geographers/anthropologists with the results of follow-up studies 50 years later.

Long abstract:

The panel examines 50 years of livelihood and landscape changes experienced by inhabitants of arid land oases in the Middle East by comparing ethnographic datasets collected by scientists with the results of follow-up studies 50 years later. The panel conveners will lead a discussion on: the value of photographs taken 50 years ago and digital preservation and consensus-building methods; detecting land-use pattern changes in arid land oases before and after the introduction of an oil-dependent livelihood; and personal life histories in the context of building new relationships with local people for the future, with a view to better collaboration between human geographers, cultural anthropologists and local people. In the late 1960s, for example, three Japanese human geographers/cultural anthropologists started field surveys in oases in Algeria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Their data and ethnographic collections are valuable and unprecedented for tracing changes in livelihood and landscape, especially in arid lands where spatiotemporal variations in natural and social environments are extremely high. The three ethnographic datasets are studies of: In Belbel oasis, Sahara Desert, Algeria, by Iwao Kobori, 1968–2010 (Nawata 2011); the Kayrabad villages, Iran, by Morio Ono, 1964–2007 (Hara 2016); and Wadi Fatima oasis, Saudi Arabia by Motoko Katakura, 1968–2003 (Nawata ed. 2019). Contemporary researchers have conducted follow-up research at all three locations, which included identifying locations and individuals in the photographs, illustrating land-use patterns by analysing satellite images, and tracing the revival of costumes and changes in jewellery among women.

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