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Language and the negotiation of identity and belonging in Harub, Saudi Arabia

Lowry, Julie (2020) Language and the negotiation of identity and belonging in Harub, Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This is an ethnographic study investigating the negotiation of identity and belonging in Harūb, Saudi Arabia. This thesis addresses the question: how do people in Harūb use language to position themselves in relation to dominant power structures? This question is answered from three different angles using discourse analysis. First, this thesis uses the concept of enregisterment to trace the development and construction of the Badawi dialect in Harūb. The analysis shows that salient linguistic features used in Harūb have become enregistered with Badu identity in terms of ideologies of linguistic differentiation. The historical and social processes of isolation, modernization and marginalization have given rise to discursive practices of naming and drawing boundaries around their way of speaking. Second, this study looks at how place is used to define Badu identity. As the traditional lifestyle of subsistence farming and shepherding is being disrupted and residents of Harūb feel marginalized, place has become critical in the construction and maintenance of Badu identity. The analysis illustrates that through place-making, engaging in the ‘politics of belonging’, and constructing belongingness people in Harūb imbue the landscape with qualities of self-sufficiency and freedom. As individuals draw on these resources of place, they construct and maintain Badu identity, ultimately putting themselves back in the “center” giving themselves a place to belong. Third, this study demonstrates how older women who have been marginalized in society use stancetaking to contest their position. Women’s role in Harūb drastically changed when new power structures were instituted. This paper analyzes the accounts of the past and present as told by the younger and older generation of women using the concept of chronotope. Those born before the change in power narrate a freedom to confinement chronotope while those born after the change in power narrate an ignorant to educated chronotope. Through the telling of these opposing accounts, these two generations of women engage in stancetaking, (dis)aligning with the Saudi state and with each other. Ultimately, as the younger women accept the new account and reject their mothers’ perspective, the collective memory of the community is changed. Additionally, as Arabic dialects in southwest Arabia exhibit rare features not found in other areas of the Arabic-speaking world, this thesis documents some of those linguistic features found in Harūb.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Saudi Arabia, Harub, Jazan, identity, belonging, Arabic dialects, South Arabia, enregisterment, chronotopes, place-making, stancetaking
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Julie Lowry
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2020 12:16
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2020 12:16

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