3A. Eickelman offers three reasons for why anthropologists have focused disproportionately on pastoral nomadism in the Middle East and North Africa. The first reason is that because pastoral nomads live and organize their identity in a segmented way, they become attractive for anthropologists to study. The second reason is that there is a fundamental concern with human ecology within anthropology. Because they have to adapt to harsh environments, the study of pastoral nomads also contributes to the study of human and group environmental survival. The third reason is simply because many Middle Eastern governments encourage the study of pastoral nomads. The reason for encouragement varies from place to place, but generally results from the desire to settle the local pastoral population. (Eickelman 66).
3B. Pastoral nomadism has decreased rapidly in the past century (66-67).Saudi Arabia is a good example of this. In the 1950s, about 40% of its population was nomadic. In 1970, the number dwindled to 11%, and today it is less than 3% (68).
3C. There are many, many reasons for this decline. While these vary from place to place, one major reason is because of the increase in cultivated land. This both decreases land available for grazing and decreases the desire for people to continue investing in grazing animals when increasing opportunities are available for those who stay put, such as merchants. Another reason is because the military use of nomads became ineffective. Also, this decline hastened with the “economic and political transformations that have occurred since the end of World War II and the influx of oil wealth into several Middle Eastern countries” (68). This is clearly represented in Saudi Arabia and Libya. Also, for various reasons, many Middle Eastern governments have sought to settle their nomadic tribes. For example, in the early 1970’s there were droughts and famines in Northeastern Africa. Before the drought, 75% of Somalia’s population was nomadic. These nomads went to refugee camps in huge numbers. After being submerged in this crisis, the Somali government decided to try to settle these peoples so as to prevent the problem in the future (68).
3D. The Rwala Bedouin are a pastoral nomadic tribe of the northern Arabian Desert. They rarely migrated together as one tribe because of their large population (73). ...