Settler Hegemony and Indigenous Resistance: A New Approach to Political Cleavages in Bahrain under Hamad bin ʿIsa Al Khalifa (1999 - 2010)
Date: 18 February 2019
University of Exeter
PhD in Middle East Politics
The mass public uprisings in Bahrain on 14 February 2011 was another episode of the long-standing political strife that has been observed in the country since the early 20th century. This study highlights one of the sources of group identity that shapes part of the political dynamics in Bahrain that has so far received little academic ...
The mass public uprisings in Bahrain on 14 February 2011 was another episode of the long-standing political strife that has been observed in the country since the early 20th century. This study highlights one of the sources of group identity that shapes part of the political dynamics in Bahrain that has so far received little academic attention, namely the one surrounding the competing discourse between ‘conquerors’ and ‘indigenes’. The conquest and settlement of the Al Khalifa have influenced the lives of the existing inhabitants and the country’s social structure under their hegemony. In the meantime, a large element of the Bahraini population, who are commonly called the Baharna (sing. Bahrani), has developed self-awareness as the ‘native people of Bahrain’. This self-perception has formed one of the crucial components of societal identity in Bahrain, and has been occasionally used by different political groups as an effective tool to mobilise the opposition and delegitimise the ruling family. In this regard, this study interprets a series of institutional measures and policies developed under King Hamad bin ʿIsa Al Khalifa in the 2000s as part of settlers’ crucial strategies to consolidate Al Khalifa’s dominance, namely the development of legitimising narratives, the exploitation of land, the formation of hegemonic boundaries, as well as the extraordinary security measures. At the same time, this thesis examines how the indigenous identity was politicised during this period, closely intertwined with their ethnic, sectarian and socio-political identities. This thesis has offered an original investigation on the political cleavage in Bahrain through the lens of settler colonialism. The settler colonial framework presents a useful approach to explain the confrontation between the rulers’ conqueror ideology and the indigenous claim of part of the population, to advance our understanding of the interplay of multiple competing identities in the struggle for power and the control of socio-political resources in Bahrain.
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