Google full text of our books:


Of Sand or Soil:
Genealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia
Nadav Samin

Runner-Up for the 2016 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies

Hardcover | 2015 | $39.50 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691164441
304 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 15 halftones. 1 map.
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400873852 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction[PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

Why do tribal genealogies matter in modern-day Saudi Arabia? What compels the strivers and climbers of the new Saudi Arabia to want to prove their authentic descent from one or another prestigious Arabian tribe? Of Sand or Soil looks at how genealogy and tribal belonging have informed the lives of past and present inhabitants of Saudi Arabia and how the Saudi government's tacit glorification of tribal origins has shaped the powerful development of the kingdom’s genealogical culture.

Nadav Samin presents the first extended biographical exploration of the major twentieth-century Saudi scholar Ḥamad al-Jāsir, whose genealogical studies frame the story about belonging and identity in the modern kingdom. Samin examines the interplay between al-Jāsir’s genealogical project and his many hundreds of petitioners, mostly Saudis of nontribal or lower status origin who sought validation of their tribal roots in his genealogical texts. Investigating the Saudi relationship to this opaque, orally inscribed historical tradition, Samin considers the consequences of modern Saudi genealogical politics and how the most intimate anxieties of nontribal Saudis today are amplified by the governing strategies and kinship ideology of the Saudi state.

Challenging the impression that Saudi culture is determined by puritanical religiosity or rentier economic principles, Of Sand or Soil shows how the exploration and establishment of tribal genealogies have become influential phenomena in contemporary Saudi society. Beyond Saudi Arabia, this book casts important new light on the interplay between kinship ideas, oral narrative, and state formation in rapidly changing societies.

Nadav Samin is visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College.


"Of Sand or Soil is a pertinent, rich, and beautifully written book about Saudi Arabian identity politics. Samin offers anthropologists, historians, political scientists, and others the tools to analyze a contemporary Saudi debate in the field of genealogy and belonging. His book is, by all standards, a groundbreaking piece of academic research."--Marieke Brandt, American Ethnologist

"Samin has produced one of the best monographs on Saudi culture and society and their relationship with the state."--Jörg Matthias Determann, Comparative Islamic Studies

"An outstanding addition to the literature of modern Saudi Arabia that also serves to put the whole contemporary analysis of retribalization into a much broader context. Samin successfully demonstrates that despite religious, political, and economic forces that diminished tribal institutions, cross-pressures countered those trends, and in the process a culture of genealogy combined with a bureaucratic genealogical rule of governance to lead Saudis to assert tribal descent . . . and so establish their ancient roots in the Arabian Peninsula."--Calvin H. Allen, Jr., PhD, Middle East Media & Book Reviews

"Of Sand or Soil is guaranteed to set one thinking. . . . [I]t is a measure of the book’s worth that it suggests several lines of inquiry. [Samin] is to be congratulated . . . on a very well-written book, [and] . . . to be commended for productive fieldwork [in Saudi Arabia] requiring moral stamina."--P. Dresch, American Historical Review

"The detailed historical and archival work and the deep ethnographic research shine throughout the book. . . . Of Sand or Soil is a welcome contribution to scholarship on Saudi Arabia, one that challenges the arguments of some of the most recent works in the field."--R. Bsheer, Arab Studies Journal

More reviews

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Note on Transliteration xiii
Introduction 1
Chapter One Ḥamad al-Jāsir: A Life in Context 19
Chapter Two The Dark Matter of Tribal Belonging 53
Chapter Three The Oracle of al-Wurūd: Ḥamad al-Jāsir’s Genealogical Correspondence 79
Chapter Four Marriage and Lineal Authentication 115
Chapter Five Parallel Migrations, Divergent Destinations 136
Chapter Six Toward a Genealogical Rule of Governance 165
Conclusion 201
Notes 205
Bibliography 255
Index 271


Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Kobo eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Dawsonera (UK)
  • DeGruyter Online
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • Project Muse
  • ProQuest Ebook Central

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Hardcover : $39.50 ISBN: 9780691164441

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Hardcover  £32.95 ISBN: 9780691164441

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 9/13/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    Middle Eastern Studies
    More Choices