Displacement, Dispossession, and Aesthetic Expression

DOI: 10.14673/IJA201521006
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.2 – 2015

Keywords: aesthetic needs, forced migration, Nabati poets, cultural identity.

By placing aesthetic expression at the core of what makes us human, Jacques Maquet called attention to the fundamental need of all people to find beauty in their surroundings and to promote contemplation in everyday life. This applies to all societies, sedentary and mobile alike, but it also applies to populations forced to migrate and thus becoming territorially displaced and culturally dispossessed. This aspect of the forced migrants’ experience has so far been studied very seldom from an ethnographic point of view. This paper seeks to redress this oversight by examining forms of resilience and resistance among those marginalized by the nation-state as more than social and economic realities. Specifically, it includes an examination of a form of poetry adopted to give expression to loss, longing, renewal, and hope by female members of Bedouin communities now living in Jordan. Through the medium of aesthetic expression, the Jordanian Nabati poets mitigate the effects of social and economic displacement, strengthen cultural identity, and affirm their autonomous voice.

Chatty, D.
Seeley, M.
Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford,
Oxford, OX1 3TB, UK.
E-mail: dawn.chatty@qeh.ox.ac.uk