Kamala Russell

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Berkeley, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9371

Approve Date

October 7, 2016

Project Title

Russell, Kamala R., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Morality Begins at Home: Practices of Privacy and the Institution of the Qabila in Southern Oman,' supervised by Dr. William F. Hanks

Preliminary abstract: This research seeks to understand the institution of the family that structures collective life within the sovereign territory of the Sultanate of Oman. My research is based in the rural mountainous areas of the southernmost Dhofar province, where interactional networks are imbricated with kin relations, patriline, and residence. The Omani state’s current interest in developing a job-based economy staffed by citizens, and in developing public spaces for commerce, bring Omanis from different qaba’il together in new ways in the workplace and at school as well as in newly dense neighborhoods. I hypothesize that despite these developments, families continue to shape the lives of their subjects in ways that have consequences for how they respond to the increasing state demand to enter into its ‘public’ spaces, particularly schools, workplaces, and malls. Family and home life institutes habitual ways of speaking and of moving the body to modulate the mode and degree of accessibility in name, deed, visage, and bodily presence to those outside the family, or in spaces outside the home. This project asks how these communicative practices articulate with conceptions of the body, territory, and ethico-religious principles that differ from those theorized as characteristic technologies of nation-state governance. Drawing on the anthropology of sovereignty in the Middle East and elsewhere, and methodological approaches to interaction, communicative practices, and space, I ask how these practices and thus family life shapes subjects even within state-controlled spaces.