Camels in the Bedouin Community of Oman: Beyond the Human–Animal Binary

Ibtisam Alwahaibi*, Viktoriya Dauletova, Harry Wels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cultures have usually been studied as a purely human phenomenon. Recent research challenges this single-focused perspective on exclusively human agency in the formation and sustainability of cultures and offers a more inclusive format for exploring cultural processes, specifically the role that human and animal co-existence plays in them. Owing to its close historically rooted ties with such animals as camels, Bedouin culture in Oman has been selected as a fertile ground for researching how cultures are constructed through human–camel relations. Camel racing events have been chosen as a highly appropriate context for observing human–camel interactions owing to their abundance and cultural significance. The primary research method used was informal conversations with 13 adult racing-camel owners and keepers, together with 10 child camel owners, conducted between 2017 and 2021. The themes of the conversations about camels were centered on the cameleers’ interpretations of racing-camel behavior in relation to humans. The collected narratives revealed the interviewees’ perceptions of and thoughts on camels’ resemblance to humans justified by their observations and perceptions of camels experiencing emotions and feelings, such as sense of ego/personality, sense of pride, sense of shame, the ability to enact revenge, and feelings of sorrow or sadness. The findings confirm that camels are wrapped up in the identity and culture of Omani Bedouins and actively contribute to the creation of that culture by co-shaping the emotional and cognitive landscape of their shared reality with humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalAnthrozoos
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 26 2022

Keywords

  • Bedouin culture
  • Oman
  • human–animal interaction
  • inclusive culture
  • nonhuman agency
  • racing camels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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