Title

Cyber Tribes: Social Media and the Representation and Revitalization of Arab Tribal Identities in the Internet Age

Campus

Dahlonega

Publication date

9-28-2021

Publisher

Brill

Book or Journal Information

Volume 14 (2021): Issue 1-2 (Sep 2021): Special Issue: Film and Visual Media in the Gulf in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication Online ISSN: 1873-9865 Print ISSN: 1873-9857

Keywords

Arab Tribes, Arabic language, internet and social media, virtual space, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Shammar

Abstract

The emergence of social media as a platform for sharing information and affirming social identities has transformed the way people interact, disseminate information and identify with others. The following examines how Arab tribes in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are utilizing social media to reaffirm their tribal identities, with a focus on the Shammar tribal confederation. In particular, it argues that despite the fact that modernizing impulses have threatened traditional lifestyles of Arab tribal communities and undercut allegiances to tribal affiliations, many tribal members have enthusiastically embraced social media as an effective tool to revitalize tribal identities in the internet age.

This article will evaluate three elements of tribal presence on the internet and social media within the overarching context of relocating tribal practices from a physical space to a virtual space. First, it will examine the iconography of Iraqi tribal websites to discern how tribes present images to represent tribal ideals. Second, it will investigate how tribes use social media as a platform to reenact communal tribal practices of sharing of information and enhancing a sense of solidarity among tribal members. Finally, this paper will compare how tribal affiliates in Iraq and Saudi Arabia use cyberspace to contest and negotiate authority vis vis the state.

This study seeks to contribute to discussions on continuities and innovations among marginalized communities during the integrative processes of modernity, and broaden our perspectives of how tribal communities are adapting to an increasingly computer literate and globalized world to speak for themselves in a direct manner previously unavailable.

Author Biography

Hassan Hussain currently teaches Arabic and Persian at the University of North Georgia. He conducted his graduate studies on tribes, language and religion in Early Modern Iraq at the University of Illinois, Chicago and the University of California, Los Angeles. He has taught courses on Arabic, Persian and Middle Eastern History at several institutions including Loyola Marymount College, Arizona State University and Columbia University. His general research interests include tribal history, historical linguistics and syncretism in the Middle East. More specifically, he is interested in exploring the impact of changing relationships between tribal populations and urban-based educational institutions on various speech communities in Mesopotamia and the Gulf. In addition to teaching courses on Middle Eastern history and languages, Hassan also conducts lectures and workshops on Middle Eastern manuscripts, epigraphy, and calligraphy.

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Cyber Tribes: Social Media and the Representation and Revitalization of Arab Tribal Identities in the Internet Age

The emergence of social media as a platform for sharing information and affirming social identities has transformed the way people interact, disseminate information and identify with others. The following examines how Arab tribes in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are utilizing social media to reaffirm their tribal identities, with a focus on the Shammar tribal confederation. In particular, it argues that despite the fact that modernizing impulses have threatened traditional lifestyles of Arab tribal communities and undercut allegiances to tribal affiliations, many tribal members have enthusiastically embraced social media as an effective tool to revitalize tribal identities in the internet age.

This article will evaluate three elements of tribal presence on the internet and social media within the overarching context of relocating tribal practices from a physical space to a virtual space. First, it will examine the iconography of Iraqi tribal websites to discern how tribes present images to represent tribal ideals. Second, it will investigate how tribes use social media as a platform to reenact communal tribal practices of sharing of information and enhancing a sense of solidarity among tribal members. Finally, this paper will compare how tribal affiliates in Iraq and Saudi Arabia use cyberspace to contest and negotiate authority vis vis the state.

This study seeks to contribute to discussions on continuities and innovations among marginalized communities during the integrative processes of modernity, and broaden our perspectives of how tribal communities are adapting to an increasingly computer literate and globalized world to speak for themselves in a direct manner previously unavailable.