Nomads and the state: the spatial dynamics of centrifugal and centripetal forces among the Israeli Negev Bedouin

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33 Scopus citations


Only seldom can pastoral nomads and state governments reach an agreement over locational issues and resource utilization. While governments attempt to impose their control over nomads, the latter wish to avoid it by all means. The opposing forces stem from conflicting ideologies and opposing forms of space production. They thus create a spatial struggle arena in which centripetal (the state) and centrifugal (nomads) spatial forces operate. The ongoing dialectic between these forces creates a unique spatial organization pattern manifested at each phase along the nomadism-sedentarism continuum and at all socio-spatial resolution levels. In this paper the above framework is examined with the Israeli Negev Bedouin as a case study throughout the recent century from the Ottoman Empire, through the British Mandate to the state of Israel. In each period the centripetal force, through various administrative and 'development' measures and policies Stands against socio-political processes within the Bedouin society which feed the centrifugal force. Generally, one may expect the centripetal force to overcome the centrifugal one, thus affecting the locational structure of the Bedouin. However, a closer examination of the micro scale reveals that their centripetal force is still applied rather forcefully, especially during the present process of semi-urbanization. That is, the spatial centripetal force does not lose its strength but rather becomes encapsulated within a different spatial framework. The conflictual process also becomes functional as structural economic issues are introduced into the spatial arena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-270
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Geography Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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