Bradford James Garvey

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Amherst College

Grant number

Gr. 10046

Approve Date

October 2, 2020

Project Title

Garvey, Bradford (Amherst College) "Praise to Open Palms: A Moral Economy of Praise in the Sultanate of Oman"

BRADFORD GARVEY, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2020 to aid research and writing on “Praise to Open Palms: A Moral Economy of Praise in the Sultanate of Oman.” During the Fellowship, several projects based on the revision of a 2019 dissertation, resulting in a book manuscript. Poems to Open Palms, is under review at the University of Chicago Press’s Studies in Ethnomusicology. The ethnography argues that praise singing in the Sultanate of Oman is both social and economic action — through praise song, ordinary Omani men persuade their leaders to give generously, to remember their obligations, and to honor their relationships with their fellow Omanis. While music and poetry are rarely understood to be related to the economy, the research shows how praise — specifically because it is formal performance — can strengthen and define relationships between citizens and their own leaders, who in turn direct state distributions back to citizens. While this relationship is sometimes described as flattery, this research shows how the forging of social bonds based on obligation is far more important than ‘truth.’ In addition to the book, Fellowship support allowed for the drafting of several articles that examine this dynamic from other perspectives: the way that agricultural plants act as metaphors for generosity, the social networking that sung poetry accomplishes, and how dance form helps citizens reckon their relations to the state.