All Things Arabia

Arabian Identity and Material Culture


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By employing the innovative lenses of ‘thing theory’ and material culture studies, this collection brings together essays focused on the role played by Arabia’s things - from cultural objects to commodities to historical and ethnographic artifacts to imaginary things - in creating an Arabian identity over time. The Arabian identity that we convey here comprises both a fabulous Arabia that has haunted the European imagination for the past three hundred years and a real Arabia that has had its unique history, culture, and traditions outside the Orientalized narratives of the West. All Things Arabia aims to dispel existing stereotypes and to stimulate new thinking about an area whose patterns of trade and cosmopolitanism have pollinated the world with lasting myths, knowledge, and things of beauty.

Contributors include: Ileana Baird, Marie-Claire Bakker, Joseph Donica, Holly Edwards, Yannis Hadjinicolaou, Victoria Hightower, Jennie MacDonald, Kara McKeown, Rana Al-Ogayyel, Ceyda Oskay, Chrysavgi Papagianni, James Redman, Eran Segal, Hülya Yağcıoğlu, and William Gerard Zimmerle.
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Ileana Baird, Ph.D. (2012), University of Virginia, is an Assistant Professor of English at Zayed University. She is the editor of Data Visualization in Enlightenment Literature and Culture (Palgrave, 2020), Eighteenth-Century Social Networks: Clubs, Literary Salons, Textual Coteries (CSP, 2014), and (with Christina Ionescu) Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context: From Consumerism to Celebrity Culture (Ashgate, 2014; Routledge, 2018). She has authored articles on eighteenth-century visual and material culture and digital humanities.

Hülya Yağcıoğlu, Ph.D. (2015), Boğaziçi University, is an Assistant Professor of English at Zayed University. She is the author of articles on comparative literature and material culture, including, more recently, “Reifying Innocence: Material Contexts of Love in The Age of Innocence and The Museum of Innocence” (Routledge, 2017) and “Bridging the Gap between People and Things: The Politics and Poetics of Collecting in Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence” (Ibidem Verlag, 2017). .
Introduction: Complex Legacies: Materiality, Memory, and Myth in the Arabian Peninsula
Ileana Baird

PART I. Arabia of the Old: The Things of the Trade
Chapter 1. Frankincense and Its Arabian Burner
William Gerard Zimmerle
Chapter 2. The Tyranny of the Pearl: Desire, Oppression, and Nostalgia in the Lower Gulf
Victoria Hightower
Chapter 3. Palm Dates, Power, and Politics in Pre-Oil Kuwait
Eran Segal

PART II. Imagining Arabia: Exotic, Fabulous, and Misplaced Things
Chapter 4.Circulating Things, Circulating Stereotypes: Representations of Arabia in Eighteenth-Century Imagination
Ileana Baird
Chapter 5. “Who Will Change Old Lamps for New Ones?”: Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp in British and American Children’s Entertainment
Jennie MacDonald
Chapter 6. Creative Cartography: From the Arabian Desert to the Garden of Allah
Holly Edwards

PART III. Emblems of Arabia: Things as Identity Markers
Chapter 7. Kinetic Symbol: Falconry as Image Vehicle in the United Arab Emirates
Yannis Hadjinicolaou
Chapter 8.Al-Sadu Weaving: Significance and Circulation in the Arabian Gulf
Rana Al-Ogayyel and Ceyda Oskay
Chapter 9.Head Coverings, Arab Identity, and New Materialism
Joseph Donica

Part IV. Post-Oil Arabia: Things, Memory, and Local Identity
Chapter 10.Written in Silver: Protective Medallions from Inner Oman
James Redman
Chapter 11. From Cradle to Grave: A Life Story in Jewelry
Marie-Claire Bakker and Kara McKeown
Chapter 12. Cine-Things: The Revival of the Emirati Past in Nojoom Alghanem’s Cinemascape
Chrysavgi Papagianni

Afterword: All Things Collected
Hülya Yağcıoğlu
Scholars interested in the study of the material culture of the Middle East/Arabian Peninsula and the wider public interested in the cultures of collection, connoisseurship, and (neo)orientalism(s) at large.
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