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Elizabeth Rainey: The Art of Storytelling in Emirati Society

This project features Emirati oral poetry and compares its unique voice with universal themes such as family, tribe, country, love, war, beauty, work and faith, thus enhancing cross-cultural communication. This vibrant tradition expresses vital emotions and teaches ethical conduct during social occasions as a source of communal entertainment and at the same time works to underpin the social hierarchy. This project initiates the preservation of storytelling as a fragile intangible heritage of the Emirates, which has become a bilingual cosmopolitan nation with the result that L1 Gulf Arabic alone is practised only by the oldest members of society. The project will record, transcribe and translate indigenous narratives and poems not yet available in English, gauging to extent to which Bedouins still employ their own version of homo narrans to inform behaviour and enforce cultural norms. It will also outline the challenges faced during the collection of the sources, including negotiating the complex politics of preservation.
(Supervisors: Prof Bill Gray and Dr Stavroula Varella; Advisor: Dr. Tanya Al Aghar)

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