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Title: Globalization, the state, and narrative plurality : historiography in Saudi Arabia
Author: Determann, Jorg Matthias
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines historiography in modern Saudi Arabia. Many students of modern Arab historiography have focused on the development of historical professions and the historiographical legitimation of regimes. In contrast, this thesis seeks to explain the emergence of a plurality of historical narratives in the kingdom in the absence of formal political pluralism. It thus pays special attention to amateur and unofficial histories. Since the 1920s, texts about local, tribal and Shiite communities emerged that diverged from, and contested, the histories focusing on the royal family. They emphasized the communities' historical independence from the Al Saud or asserted the communities' importance in Saudi national history. Since the 1970s, distinct social and economic histories also developed. These histories described important historical events as the result of wider social and economic factors rather than the actions of individual rulers or communities. The thesis argues that this narrative plurality was the product of the building and expansion of the Saudi state in the context of globalization. The state subsidized not only dynastic histories, but also many texts on local, social and economic history. It also provided an increasing number of its citizens with education and employment in the expanding public sector. It thus empowered a variety of previously illiterate and relatively poor sections of Saudi society, including former Bedouin tribespeople, to produce conformist, but also dissenting histories. Globalization not only facilitated narrative plurality by putting Saudi historians in contact with different ideologies, methodologies, and source material from abroad, it also allowed authors to publish their works abroad and online beyond governmental censorship. But state expansion and globalization have not been restricted to Saudi Arabia, and this thesis suggests that these processes may also have led to narrative plurality in Arab historiography more generally, even under the conditions of authoritarianism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral