A recent work of theatre from Oman, Aḥmad al-Izkī’s al-Layla al-Ḥālika (The Dark Night, 2010), weaves together themes and characters from Shakespeare’s Othello and the pre-Islamic epic ‘Antara Ibn Shaddād, imagining a series of encounters which ultimately allow the protagonists to escape the tragic ending of Shakespeare’s play. This article argues that this juxtaposition performs a clever and well-placed intervention in ongoing socio-political debates on the Arabian Peninsula surrounding issues of identity, citizenship and political participation, and that the play argues for inclusivity and tolerance in the face of deep-seated racism and rising sectarianism. Furthermore, while al-Izkī’s script provides a happy ending, the 2010 production directed by ‘Abd al-Ghafūr al-Balūshī suggested a darker warning against the continuing threat of political, ethnic and sectarian divisions across the Gulf, a warning that subsequent events have borne out.
Aḥmad al-Izkī’s Fusion of Shakespeare and Classical Arab Epic
Spatial Tropes in the Kinship Narratives of an Extended Family Network in Oman
This study calls for a reintegration of space and relatedness in anthropological theories of social formation. It is based on the examination of spatial tropes in the kinship narratives and discursive practices of an extended Swahili-speaking family network historically located between Oman and coastal East Africa.
Defeated Militants and Enduring Revolutionary Social Values in Dhufar, Oman
Those who have participated in organized political violence often develop distinctive identities as veteran combatants. But what possibilities exist to produce a veteran identity for “invisible” veterans denied public recognition or mention, such as politically repressed defeated insurgents? Everyday socializing during or after political violence can help restore social worlds threatened or destroyed by violence; an examination of “invisible” veteran defeated revolutionaries in Dhufar, Oman, shows how everyday socializing can help reproduce a distinctive veteran identity despite political repression. Ethnographic fieldwork with veteran militants from the defeated revolutionary liberation movement for Dhufar reveals that while veterans (who are a diverse group) no longer publicly reproduce their political and economic revolutionary ideals, some male veterans—through everyday, same-sex socializing—reproduce revolutionary ideals of social, especially tribal and ethnic, egalitarianism. These practices mark a distinctive veteran identity and indicate an “afterlife” of lasting social legacies of defeated revolution.
A Case in Education for the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries
Faryal Khan and Maricel Fernandez-Carag
This article presents a critical case analysis of gender parity in the Sultanate of Oman. By reviewing policy and practice pertaining to gender parity and gender equality in education in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC), specifically in the Sultanate of Oman, lessons and insights can be drawn to formulate strategies for promoting gender parity and equality that will inform an Education 2030 policy dialogue in relation to achieving the new targets for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on Goal 4—quality of education in the next 15 years. Specifically, the article attempts to answer: (1) What are the indicators of progress toward achieving Goal 5 on gender parity? (2) What are the strategies/policies adopted to achieve Goal 5? (3) What are the remaining challenges/obstacles to achieve Goal 5 on gender parity? (4) What are the recommendations to eliminate gender parity and the implications for gender equality reforms?
Meral Harmancı McDermott, Bastırılanın geri dönüşü: Tanzimat’tan Cumhuriyet’e kadın oyun yazarlarında toplumsal cinsiyet (Return of the repressed: Gender in women playwrights from the Tanzimat to the Republic), Istanbul: Habitus Kitap, 2016, 318 pp., TRY 26 (paperback), ISBN: 978-6-05463-046-2.
Yavuz Selim Karakışla, Osmanlı Imparatorluğu’nda savaş yılları ve çalışan kadınlar: Kadınları Çalıştırma Cemiyeti (1916–1923) (Women, war, and work in the Ott oman Empire: Society for the Employment of Ott oman Muslim Women [1916–1923]), Istanbul: Iletişim Yayınları, 2015, 408 pp., TRY 33 (paperback), ISBN: 978-9-75051-857-7.
Unni Wikan's Anthropology
Life Among the Poor in Cairo (London: Tavistock, 1980), 173 pp. Behind the Veil in Arabia: Women in Oman (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), 314 pp.
Managing Turbulent Hearts: A Balinese Formula for Living (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 370 pp.
Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 308 pp.
Bryan Loughrey and Graham Holderness
In this issue, Critical Survey continues to represent international scholarship and research, and to broaden the horizons of scholarship. Featuring authors from Britain, the United States, Australia, Jordan, the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Ireland, the issue ranges from early modern to contemporary literature and culture, from Shakespeare to the literature and drama of contemporary Ireland.
Wilfred Thesiger as Traveler and Anthropologist
Using Geertz's Verstehen/Einfühlen distinction, this article begins with an overview of the travel writing and anthropological work about Oman, concentrating on the southern region of Dhofar. The article then situates Wilfred Thesiger's classic Arabian Sands ( 1991) within these two genres as an example of a writer who is able to show understanding for and empathy with his Bedu traveling companions. Thesiger's Verstehen is demonstrated through comparing the details he gives of Bedu culture with current manifestations. His Einfühlen is shown through his overarching concern for his companions and his respectful descriptions of their life, avoiding the typical Victorian condescension toward “natives“ and the self-absorbed gushing of many modern travel writers. Based on seven years of studying the culture of southern Oman, the article argues that Thesiger's writing shows a rare combination of accuracy and empathy, which elevates his book to a model of both anthropological and travel writing.
Demography, Identity and the Road to Equitable Policies
In 2005, the nations of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC), which consist of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, housed over 12 million international migrants. Employed mainly within the service and construction industries, these foreign workers have become a demographic majority in some GCC countries, creating an urgent need for more progressive immigration and equitable integration policies. This article provides an overview of migration to the region, situating it within the larger global emigration/immigration context. By focusing on the various stages of migration and the economic role played by migrants, the article argues for policies that protect the economic, social and political rights of labour migrants. It concludes with recommendations that consider conditions in both the GCC and migrants' countries of origin.
Why Pro-democracy Activity Was Avoided in Gulf Nations during the Arab Spring
Charles Mitchell, Juliet Dinkha and Aya Abdulhamid
This article explores the Arab Spring uprisings that started in late 2010, and investigates why pro-democracy movements were circumvented in most Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Our research is qualitative in nature, and looks into the antecedents of the revolts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen to ascertain why revolutionary activity was precluded in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Through the utilization of academic research, news sources, governmental, intergovernmental organization, and international nongovernmental organization reports and policy papers, we conclude that the generous allocations of public goods and the extant and reactive government policies during the Arab Spring period successfully preempted revolutionary activities in the Gulf. In this article, we also examine the only Gulf country outlier, Bahrain, by investigating what policies and conditions led to outbreaks of large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in that nation.