Date of Award

Fall 12-2001

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

James Flanagan

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Shana Walton

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Alexandra Jaffe

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


This thesis analyzes the relationship between the practice of an old tribal Bedouin oral tradition (Nabat poetry) and the politics of the nation-state in Kuwait. The historical context of this tradition, its development within modern state boundaries, and its current role in the politico-cultural exchange are all examined. Anthropological, ethnohistorical, and Arabic local printed resources are used. In addition, Bedouin oral traditions and personal observation are employed for final analysis. Unlike the pre-state Nabat, the current practice is institutionalized to become an essential aspect of state modern processes. A connection is suggested between the emphasis (in the current practice of Nabat) on continuity of old poetic structures and their aesthetic and social values and the Bedouins' reconstruction of their social reality and protection of their political identity within the state. It is also posited that as long as the state is able to contain the production of Nabat to reinforce the legitimacy of its historical being, it will incorporate it as a part of its own cultural identity and nationalistic tradition.