Cyber Tribes

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

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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  • 1 University of North Georgia, USA, Dahlonega, GA
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Tribal identity is an intrinsic part of the histories and cultures of the Gulf. Nonetheless, tribal communities rarely had access or the ability to control what was being said about them in media. The emergence of social media as a platform for sharing information and affirming social identities has transformed the way tribes interact, disseminate information and identify with others. This paper argues that Arab tribes, despite constantly being threatened by modernizing impulses that undercut nomadic ways of life, have enthusiastically embraced social media as an effective tool to revitalize tribal identities in the internet age. Historically, while maintaining nomadic lifestyles and oral literature, they were outside the circles of material literary production, which were usually based in urban areas and among settled populations. However, the internet and social media now allow tribes to overcome societal marginalization and material limitations to self-representation. In this manner, tribal communities no longer need the affirmation of the literate world; they can speak for themselves in a direct manner previously unavailable.

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