Sabbagh Lecture: "Oasis, Coast, And Mountain: Land/Waterscapes Of Culture And History In The Arabian Gulf”


Tucson Marriott University Park
880 E. 2nd St., Tucson
Tucson , AZ


Thu, 02/25/2016 - 7:00pm to Fri, 08/12/2022 - 2:14am



Speaker:  Professor Steven C. Caton
Date:  Thursday, February 25, 2016, 7 PM
Reception:  following the lecture
Location:  Tucson Marriott University Park
        880 E. 2nd St., Tucson
        FREE and open to the public

About the Speaker
Steven C. Caton is the Khaled bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. His field research has focused on the Arabian Peninsula, especially Yemen and the Gulf. He specializes in anthropological linguistics; film and media studies; and the anthropology of water sustainability.

Caton’s award-winning book Peaks of Yemen I Summon (1990) is about the oral poetry of northern Yemeni tribes, and his book Lawrence of Arabia (1999) is an analysis of the transnational production and the audience reception of the film. His Yemen Chronicle (2005) is a memoir of his first fieldwork (1979-1981) and an ethnography of a conflict and its mediation, where he shows how tribalism is neither lawless nor disappearing in the countries of the Middle East.  

About the Lecture
Our idea of the Arabian Peninsula might be that of an uninhabited (and inhospitable) desert but this obscures a more complex reality encompassing desert oasis, coastal port settlement, and terraced-mountain village (to name only the most prominent zones, each of which has not only had its own environmental and cultural history but has also been intricately connected to the other complementary zones in fascinating ways).

This lecture will look at these zones as “land-water nexuses,” where water (ground water, sea, and rain) has been made to come into contact with land (desert sand, beach, and mountain) by humans to create distinctive land/waterscapes. How has land and water been managed in them historically? How is land and water being managed in them today? And what might we expect of their futures? The lecture will try to answer these questions by combining archaeology, history, and ethnography.  

The 24th Annual Sabbagh Lecture is presented by the UA School of Anthropology and is sponsored by Adib and Vivi Sabbagh.

A free reception follows the lecture.