The birth of a poetry of political criticism: the transformation that took place in the political verses of the Negev Bedouin at the close of the Ottoman period

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Abstract

The poetic heritage of the Negev Bedouin is rich and varied. Particularly captivating are their political verses, which are as old as the nomads themselves. The collection of poems recorded by Sasson Bar-Zvi, former officer of the military government, includes many political verses composed in the 20th century through which runs an unmistakable strand of protest and rebuke. This article seeks to examine the moment when a note of criticism first made an appearance in the political poetry of the Negev Bedouin. We will try to characterize the period in which this note appeared and the historical processes that led to its emergence. We will focus on the growing involvement of the Ottomans in the second half of the 19th century in the internal struggles of the Bedouin, an involvement that eventually led to the founding of a city at the border between the three major Bedouin confederations inhabiting the Negev at that time. At the centre of this study lies the poem that we identify—for now at least—as the first poem of criticism; we will analyse it and the information we have about it, then formulate hypotheses regarding the date, motivations, and circumstances of its composition.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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