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Week 7

Thursday 15 November

Two-hour seminar: Deserts

  • Primary source

Read this selection of quotes from Wilfried Thesiger, Arabian Sands, (London, Longmans, 1959). See document

  • Secondary sources

Diana K. Davis, “Deserts”, in Andrew C. Isenberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014)

Toby C. Jones, “State of Nature: The Politics of Water in the Making of Saudi Arabia”, in Alan Mikhail (ed.), Water on Sand: Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 231– 248

Read this short article on water scarcity in the UAE

Seminar questions

1-How is ‘nature’ represented in the primary document?
How might we discuss this document in terms of environmental history?
How might we talk about nature having an agency in this document?
How have humans perceived and described deserts?

2-Are deserts just “wastelands” on the planet?

3-How have colonial and post-colonial states justified interventions and development projects in the deserts?
What has been the environmental impact of development projects and state interventions in deserts?

4-How would you define “environment power”? Try to find examples of “environment power” in the world based on Toby C. Jones’ analysis of the Saudi State and his relationship to the environment.