Academic journal article Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

The Desert: Human Geography and Symbolic Economy

Academic journal article Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

The Desert: Human Geography and Symbolic Economy

Article excerpt

Deserts are not simply geographical regions with certain physical features; they are geo-aesthetic and geo-cultural entities. They evoke a plethora of associations and connotations: the arid and sterile as well as the sacred and the mystic. Inhabited by ethnic groups that have adjusted to the climatic conditions, desert dwellers develop a distinctive specificity within the larger culture to which they belong. Travelers and anthropologists; developers and environmentalists; novelists and poets have been preoccupied with the desert. In the Arab World, the desert--the Arabian Desert and the Sahara in particular--stands out historically as the abode of nomads. In contemporary literature and the social sciences, the desert is often contrasted to urban settlements; it is studied and represented, explored and fictionalized, in varied works and academic monographs.

This issue of Alifis devoted to the desert as a theme, motif, and setting in the natural sciences, social sciences, literature, cinema, the arts, folklore, and mythology. In this multidisciplinary issue, the image of the desert is investigated in articles, interviews, and testimonial memoirs. …

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