Mark S. Weiner

A New Video: Bedouin Law

In Anthropology, Bedouin, Conversations, Cross-cultural encounters & comparisons, Islam, Middle East, Video on October 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Greetings to everyone after a somewhat longer absence than I had planned! The second pass proofs of The Rule of the Clan are now with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and a kind and sympathetic soul in New York is carefully creating the index. It’s good to be back.

I was so pleased with the reception of my first small documentary video that I decided to make another—and here it is. It’s about the law of the Bedouin, the independent Arab nomads of the Middle East and North Africa.

Although I have yet to acquire serious video-editing software and I’m operating entirely without a sound editor, the production values of this video are greatly improved thanks to a new camera, a Lumix DMC-GH2. I really appreciate everyone who gave me such great advice about the purchase, especially my former students and my friends at the Minnesota Historical Society. On the post-production front, I’m also now using a monitor that’s nearly as large as the heart of the good man who gave it to me, Deven Desai, who blogs at Concurring Opinions.

The video is called “A Law of Honor and Contract,” and it’s centered around a conversation I had in Manhattan with my friend Frank, one of the leading Western authorities on Bedouin law. One way to appreciate the depth of Frank’s expertise is to know that his answers to my questions were entirely off the cuff—no preparation, just unscripted brilliance.

I’m looking forward to another conversation with Frank before too long, where I’ll hope to take up some of the issues we couldn’t cover this time or that were left in the pile of .mov files on my cutting-room floor. In particular, look for a future video in which we take up the fact that Bedouin law, as Frank explained to me, “is markedly right-based, and so stands in sharp contrast, for instance, to many of the legal systems of East Asia.” I know that Frank is also looking forward to discussing how Bedouin blood-money groups are held together by the contractual arrangements he considers here.

But enough introduction—I hope you’ll enjoy this next step in my effort to put the world of global legal diversity on film:


An update. This modified version of the video is available in Germany:

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