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From Expert Rule to Bureaucratic Authority: Governing the Bedouin

Ceren Belge

Keywords: BEDOUINS; EXPERT; LEGAL PLURALISM; PALESTINIANS; RESISTANCE; TRIBES

Abstract

This paper examines shifting modalities of government over Bedouins of the Negev. During the first two decades of statehood, Israeli officials approached Bedouins as a relatively quiescent population, based on their understanding that the Bedouins' tribal loyalties guaranteed their aloofness from Palestinian national politics. From the 1970s on, however, Bedouin resistance to Israeli land and settlement policies began to mark the Bedouin increasingly as a 'dangerous population'. As a result, the interest in preserving the Bedouins' cultural specificity gave way to a new emphasis on the need to modernize the Bedouins. The shift in governmental discourse was accompanied by a pluralization in the techniques of government, from an informal 'government of experts' to one in which bureaucratic and impersonal modes of authority competed with expert rule.

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