Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Negotiation of Bilateral Endogamy in the Middle Eastern Context: The Zikri Baluch Example

(Research Paper)

By Carroll McC. Pastner
Department of Anthropology,
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405
New Jersey USA

Koh e Murad Turbat

Koh e Murad Turbat


In a furtherance of a recent and laudable departure from”lineage mentality” in the study of kinship and marriage in the majority, bilaterally organized Middle East, first-cousin marriage among the Pakistani Zikri Baluch is examined in terms of marital strategies pursued by networks of siblings and their spouses. Emphasis is placed on the cumulative implications of the variant motivations parents as marital negotiators have for themselves, for their sons, and for their daughters.

IT HAS BEEN OVER A DECADE since Khuri (1970) argued that in the Middle Eastern context patrilateral parallel-cousin (FBD) marriage is preferred over matrilateral parallel-cousin (MZD) and cross-cousin (FZD and MBD) marriage for essentially social psychological reasons. The nub of Khuri’s thesis is that because FBD marriage does not create new affinal relationships, it “nullifies” the effects of marriage on the intensity of family relationships and thereby contributes to familial harmony (Khuri 1970:616).2 Among the critics of this argument, Hammel and Goldberg (1971) and Eickelman (1981:130) briefly, but correctly, object to an oversimplification of the actual complexity of kin endogamy in the Middle East. Peters (1976:61-66) indicates the fallacy in Khuri’s (and others’) attribution of familial harmony only to close paternal kin. A related and crucial point (Peters 1976:32) is that descent and lineality are not the most significant social organizational variables in the majority of Middle Eastern settings. Khuri’s inappropriate adoption of the segmentary model and the kin-extension hypothesis lie at the root of his mistreatment of kinship and marriage; he is not alone in doing so.

The context in which kin endogamy is negotiated in most Middle Eastern settings is not one of agnation and segmentation, but rather involves the reckoning of reciprocal obligations and debts between bilateral kin. That bilaterality is “indiscriminate” and therefore incapable of differentiating bounded social groupings (Peters 1976:40), complicates the analysis of marital negotiation, but offers a far more accurate portrayal of the social organization than one which attributes lineage organization to inappropriate economic and political settings. A related point of departure from the major tendency in the literature is my concern with first-cousin marriage of any order, not just the FBD variant.3 Emphasis here is more suitably placed on the fact of bilaterality, the subsequent significance of matrilaterality, and the attendant relevance of previously established affinal connections. A setting in which first-cousin marriage is very intensely practiced affords an opportunity to discuss kin endogamy in the context of a revisionist perspective which breaks away from the prevalent “lineage mentality” in the analysis of Middle Eastern social organization.

Does such a perspective indicate a complete rejection of Khuri’s thesis? My contention is that there might be a social psychological component to FBD (or any other cousin) marriage in the Middle East, deriving not so much from specific consideration of the bride and groom, but rather from the ongoing concerns of those who arrange their marriage. As Geertz (1979:374) expresses it in the Moroccan context: “Any study of the patterns of actual marriage choices must be centered not on the marrying couple, but on their parents and their parents’ situations, concepts of their social worlds, and interests.” It is not that parents disregard the potential affinal relationships of their children, but that in the context of arranged marriage, parents perceive the eventual affinal connections of their offspring initally and primarily from their own perspective.4 The present discussion stresses a point for the most part unsystematically examined in the literature: that mothers and fathers can have different motivations in negotiating their children’s marriages, both for themselves, and separately in regard to their sons and daughters. The resultant pattern is one of overall consistency between the jural level of marriage preferences and the statistical level of actual marriages among the Zikri Baluch, but with an internal variation according to male and female perspectives.

An examination of the facilitators of a high rate of bilateral first-cousin marriage among the Zikri Baluch fisherfolk of coastal Pakistan has been made previously (C. Pastner 1979).5 Kin endogamy occurs in a demographically, culturally, and religiously circumscribed universe, socially delimited as follows: (1) demographically, kin endogamy is facilitated by marital exchange between four geographically dispersed communities, which in the context of patrivirilocality serve to expand the range of kin endogamy beyond the limits of single communities; (2) culturally, the Baluch regard themselves as a distinct endogamous entity vis-a-vis contiguous cultural and ethnic groups; (3) religiously, as members of a minority Islamic sect, Zikris do not countenance intermarriage with majority Sunni (orthodox) Muslims, nor vice versa; (4) socially, marriage occurs within a nonstratified context in which endogamy is phrased and in fact operates as the preferential exchange of children between same and opposite-sex siblings.

Kin exogamy is not generally practiced by the Zikri Baluch for strategic economic and political reasons; simultaneously, kin endogamy is not motivated among the majority by corporate economic and political considerations, such as the retention of agricultural land or political office. In the presence of a high rate of close kin endogamy and the general absence of an explicit correlation between political economic strategy and marital strategy, the latter can be examined more easily in the context of consanguinity and affinity, providing a less “contaminated” view of the intersection of kinship and the negotiation of marriage. The accumulation of Zikri Baluch marital strategies reflects the outcome of compromises between (1) variant concerns of mothers and fathers in the negotiation of their male and female children’s marriages; (2) emphasis on sibling solidarity and  concomitant mutual calculations of the rights and obligations of siblingship; (3) ambivalence generated-by the normative emphasis on sibling solidarity; and (4) tactical advantages and disadvantages to the renewal of affinal connections. Because first-cousin marriage is so intensely practiced among the Zikri Baluch, compromise has had the statistical result of reinforcing the enmeshment of consanguineal and affinal ties. That is, there is more of a perpetuation of the “well-used social road” (Geertz 1979:375) than engagement in “lapsed affinity” (Peters 1976:4) On these well-used social roads, men and women effect and are affected by marital strategy in variant ways.

It should be emphasized that technically this is not an “endogamous system,” since it is not a closed system of kinship with a preference for inmarriage linked with a prohibition on outmarriage for both sexes; instead, preference is for keeping one’s daughters as close to the nuclear family as the incest prohibition permits (Pitt- Rivers 1977:165). Prohibition in the Muslim Middle East extends only to lineal and first-order collateral kin, thereby permitting marriage with not only FBC, but any first cousin. The limitations of “lineage mentality” are evident in a subsequently “disordered endogamous system,” because such a system makes ineffectual the conceptualization of a sharp dichotomy between agnatic and matrilateral kin as kin categories (Barth 1973:18). In the Zikri Baluch case, marital negotiation occurs in a particularly reticulate atmosphere, since parents who themselves are first cousins may very well contract a marriage for their child with that child’s own first cousin. The ensuing enmeshment of consanguineal and affinal connections is impossible to reduce to single-stranded bonds such as those suggested by Khuri (1970). Thus, while an important conceptual distinction between consanguine and affine is made by the Zikri Baluch, there cannot be an elaboration of behavioral distinctions between consanguine and affine (cf. Barth 1973:12), although, as will be suggested, this may be less true for women than for men. An examination of resultant “tangled networks of familial relationships” requires not a delineation of genealogical segmentation (Geertz 1979:324), but of how the content of consanguineal and affinal bonds is utilized variously in the negotiation of first-cousin marriage.

The present data were obtained in a Zikri Baluch fishing community on the Arabian Sea, thirty-four kilometers west of Karachi, Pakistan. Founded in the 1930s, the village in 1977 had a population of approximately six hundred, residing in about one hundred and fifty households. While female economic roles are restricted to the domestic sector, the vast majority of men are fishermen, using either lateen sailboats with two to six crewmen, or smaller, one-man boats. Men unable to secure positions on village boats either seek work on fishing launches operating out of Karachi harbor, or engage in migrant labor in Saudi Arabia and the gulf states.

A minority of villagers also own interest in agricultural property; they are the direct descendents of the village founder. The office of village headman (wadera) resides in this kin unit, the headmanship having passed successively to two sons of the village founder. As argued elsewhere (C. Pastner 1979), intense patriparallelism
in marriages contracted within this kin unit has facilitated unity among males maintaining joint interests in land and political office. While it may be dubious to explain FBD marriage generally as a means of preventing internal factions (Boon 1976:200), under certain circumstances it may represent a gamble that unity will be sustained,
although this is not to say that internal splintering may not occur in the future. The purpose here, however, is not to focus on this minority group, but on the majority of Zikri Baluch, who do not have such corporate economic and political motivations for patriparallel-cousin marriage.

Bilaterality in Zikri Baluch kinship is manifest in bilateral kinship terminology and a generally limited genealogical knowledge. Consanguinity, conceptualized as shared blood, includes recognition of nazdike siad (“near kin”), directly related through one’s parents, siblings, and children, along with dure siad (“far kin”), related through one’s grandparents. Consisting of both near and far kin, peskom (“father’s kin”), or posht (literally, “back,” or “spine”), are kin traced through one’s father, while maskom (“mother’s kin”), or lap (literally, “belly”), are those traced through one’s mother.

A systematic reckoning of both near and distant bilateral kin would embrace virtually all villagers, but as a result of residence patterns, there are internal subdivisions in the village. Conjugal families reside in their own one-room houses, but there is a clustering of the homes of fathers and married sons, and of married brothers at the death of the father. Conjugal families constitute autonomous commensal and economic units, although continuous exchange of food, goods, and services takes place between households, particularly those of parents and married children, and those of married siblings. For ritual purposes, such as weddings, funerals, and circumcisions, collateral kin from within and without the village are included in kin networks and the attendant exchange of goods and services. Corporate behavior necessitated by disputes also draws in kin from within and without the community. Nonkin, especially wadera (secular headmen) and pirs (living religious saints) can serve as mediators in disputes among Zikri Baluch of the same or different communities, and in confrontations with other religious and ethnic groups (S. Pastner 1978).

The calculation of debts and obligations between individuals and between households characterizes village social organization, whether the involvement is between kin, neighbors, friends, or patrons and clients. The operative premises in these categories of relationships are not contrastive since, for example, the economic dependence of a son on his father can make their relationship one of patronage as well as kinship (Geertz 1979:315). Reciprocity is what makes links, kin or otherwise, efficacious, with continuous calculation in dyadic reciprocity made necessary by the double strain-toward both symmetry and asymmetry-inherent in reciprocity itself (Lebra 1975:562). At any given time, asymmetry is possible if one in the exchange dyad is in debt to the other, even though in the long run the relationship may be in balance (Lebra 1975:557). Such strain is evident in the Zikri Baluch setting in a number of ways. For example, each household ideally consumes fresh fish every day, but this is dependent on the daily luck of individual fishermen or boat crews. Fish, therefore, frequently must be redistributed among households. While fish are often freely offered, households also engage in mahipindi (“fish begging”),which may or may not result in obtaining fish. Both hoarding and generous giving (Lebra 1975:562) on the part of men and women characterize not only the exchange of fish, but other forms of exchange, such as monetary loans, contributions to wedding expenses, donations of labor, and the provision of moral and physical support in disputes.

Exchange occurs both inside and outside the realm of kinship, but the jural weight of kin responsibility is especially heavy, since hak (“obligation”) obtains between kin, whereas between nonkin, marzi (“free choice”) applies. Relations between friends, neighbors, and patrons and clients can be transformed into relations of hak, but in this circumstance it is created deliberately, whereas it is an a priori given in the realm of kinship.6 Nonetheless, it is the summation of personal debts and obligations between kin, not simply the biogenetic distance between them, which determines effective kinship (Geertz 1979:316). Hak must be applied through reciprocal, patterned obligations if it is to function as more than simply a truism of how Zikri Baluch kinship ought to work. However, it is difficult to abrogate hak entirely when parents and children or siblings are involved. It should be noted also that while hak obtains between dyads, others can be drawn into webs of obligation and disputes arising during asymmetric phases in dyadic relationships. Thus, the relationship between same-sex siblings can be colored by the presence or lack of enmity between their spouses, and vice versa. In the short term this can be observed in the practice of mahi pindi; in the long term it is relevant to the role of siblings and their spouses in the negotiation of first-cousin marriage.

Nowhere do the contraction and maintenance of bonds of obligation between Zikri Baluch kin gain more significance than in the negotiation of first-cousin marriage. Unions are preferentially contracted between nakozak (either FBC or MBC) or druzak (either FZC or MZC). This is not a closed system of exchange, but one generally conceived of as “delayed reciprocity,” in which a bride or groom should be forthcoming from the uncle or aunt who previously received a bride or groom. The Zikri Baluch are well aware of the major detractions from attainment of this ideal: a potential mate of the correct sex or age range simply may not exist, or poor relations between siblings may prevent negotiation. What they do not always stress explicitly, but which will be considered below, is that successful negotiations depend not only upon the status of the relations between siblings, but upon those between their spouses as well.

Each marriage is negotiated individually, and involves material transactions carried out prior to the wedding, which are regarded as essential to the legitimacy of the marriage. Marital prestations are not reduced or eliminated in the instance of first-cousin marriage. Both sides donate bridal clothing and domestic furnishings, but the groom, with the aid of his father and other kin, also provides gold earrings and, importantly, a house for himself and his bride. Negotiations break down if these contractual conditions are not met or are protracted unduly. Siblings may make an informal agreement that their preadolescent children will marry eventually, but formal negotiations never commence until a girl reaches puberty, and normatively initiated by the boy’s family. Girls marry at about age fifteen, and have virtually no say in the choice of a spouse. Since males must be at least partly financially independent enough to support a household, they are ordinarily in their mid-twenties, and can exert some veto power in their parents’ choice of mate.

While fathers are involved in the more formal aspect of marital negotiation, namely, the drawing up of the marriage contract, the role of mothers should not be discounted or deemphasized; sexual segregation absolutely requires that women be fully involved (Altourki 1977). Marriage negotiation necessitates two parallel networks, male and female, because of the dichotomization of Zikri Baluch social life into male and female spheres.7 Made viable by the nonseverence of married women’s ties to their natal kin and communities, the female network is particularly significant in view of patrivirilocality. Visits, especially on religious holidays, take place regularly, and most women give birth to their first and sometimes their subsequent children in their natal homes. In addition, the wives of men working abroad often reside with their parents, not their in-laws.

It should be emphasized that mothers and fathers have separate concerns in marital negotiation, both for themselves and for their sons and daughters. Let us examine first the extent to which marital strategy is linked with economic strategy; more specifically, with the recruitment of boat crews. With the important exception of married and unmarried sons crewing for their fathers, there is little integration of kinship with the social patterning of maritime operations.8 Crew formation is highly flexible, involving frequent changes in boat affiliation, and the creation of marital links is not used explicitly as a means of maximizing this particular aspect of economic strategy. Nonetheless, in view of the absence of anticipatory inheritance, and the concern for the economic futures of their sons, fathers can be faced with too many sons and too few positions on their own boats. This concern is exacerbated by a normative emphasis on patrivirilocality. The few instances of male community exogamy (see below), appear to have provided employment opportunities for sons outside the village. An alternative and more common solution, which is being adopted increasingly, is migrant labor in the Persian Gulf.9 If reliance on migrant labor continues to augment, it would have important implications for future marriage arrangements, since it would decrease the economic dependence of sons on their fathers for the accumulation of capital necessary for marriage.

Fathers have different concerns and strategies in the negotiation of their daughters’ marriages. The option of community exogamy for females widens the marital pool, but girls should be affianced as soon as possible after the attainment of puberty, and it is up to their fathers to see that this is not delayed unduly. This temporal pressure is not as relevant in the case of sons, but, on the other hand, there are greater financial obligations in the marriage of sons. Thus, there are two major concerns faced by fathers: the financial vulnerability of sons and the moral vulnerability of daughters.

Mothers are preoccupied similarly with these financial and moral matters. However, as Rosen (1978:571) suggests in the Moroccan case, it may be that women have a more “sociological” approach to marital negotiation than do men. Zikri Baluch women overtly are aware of how individual marriages feed into and alter the networks through which they operationalize their domestic statuses. The concerns of mothers for their sons’ and daughters’ marriages differ, since, in both structural and social-psychological terms, bringing in a daughter-in-law contrasts with sending out a daughter, in a patrivirilocal context. Even in a community-endogamous union, brides reside near their in-laws, not their parents, and their introduction alters previously established female networks based on continuous interaction, cooperation, and conflict.

Mothers are concerned particularly about their female offspring, and emphasize the need for daughters, especially as new brides, to have the backing of consanguineal kin in their tenuous position of new affine. Incoming brides with only dure siad (“far kin”), or no kin at all, in their conjugal community, are severely restricted by sexual segregation, and undeniably disadvantaged if they do not get along with those adults with whom they spend the majority of their time-their female affines. One way to alleviate the susceptibility of daughters is for mothers to attempt to position them in already viable and potentially advantageous female networks. Fathers as well may attempt to aid in their sons’ network formation, but because of patrivirilocality, and because sons are older when they marry, they are in a less vulnerable position than their sisters in the delineation of personal networks.

The Zikri Baluch espousal that marriage first of all links two families, and secondarily links two individuals, is fortified by a parallel attitude that conjugality is successful if the parents of the couple get along (and if children result from the union). A low divorce rate and the absence of polygyny sustain the importance of the affinal link for the Zikri Baluch. What is significant is that they incorporate an ideal of affinal renewal which serves to convolute consanguinity and affinity. In their view marriage in itself does not constitute or create kinship, but marriage is a means of strengthening already existing consanguinity which, in turn, is reputed to maximize conditions for harmonious affinal linkages.

As recorded elsewhere (C. Pastner 1979), in a sample of 171 marriages among two generations of Zikri Baluch, 109, or 64 percent, are between actual first cousins, 40, or 23 percent, are between classificatory kin (including 17 cross-generation marriages), and 22, or 13 percent, are between nonkin.1 0 While the marriage data were collected only in the village in which fieldwork was conducted, the statistics reflect the facts of marital exchange and residential transfer by married couples among the four communities constituting the geographic boundaries of Zikri Baluch conjugality.’ 1

For the purposes of the present discussion, the 26 marriages of the direct descendents of the village founder are subtracted, because the economic and political considerations constraining their marital strategies are not relevant to the majority of villagers.12 Table 1 summarizes the remaining 145 unions, and distinguishes between community endogamy and exogamy for men and women. No significant variation was found between the two generations in marriage patterns. The vast majority of men (93 percent) marry into their natal community, while there is a slight tendency among women to marry exogamously (54 percent). While the aim here is not to measure expected and observed frequencies of cousin marriage, the statistical significance of the data for the long-term demography of kin endogamy should not be overstated. Nonetheless, while the?mphasis on community endogamy for men obviously promotes a high rate of first-cousin marriage (Gilbert and Hammel 1966), the Zikri Baluch rate is significantly higher than among the majority of Middle Eastern marriage pools, and cannot be accounted for on solely demographic grounds. 13

Kin and Nonkin Marriage( N=1 45)

———————————Community —Endogamous ——————– Community —Exogamous
———————————Men ————– Women      ———————      Men  ——- Women
First Cousin ————— 85 —————— 49 ————————————— 8 ————- 44
N=93 (64%)

Cousin———————- 32  ——————13  ————————————- 1  ————- 20
N=33 (23%)

Nonkin ——————– 18  ——————- 4  ————————————— 1 ————– 15
N=19 (13%)

Total 145 (100%) —– 135 (93%)   ——- 66 (46%)  ————————– 10 (7%)  —– 79(54%)
Table 2 summarizes actual first-cousin marriage, again distinguishing between community endogamy and exogamy for men and women. While the overall pattern is one of bilateral-cousin marriage, with community endogamy for men (eighty-five out of ninety-three marriages) and a mix of community endogamy (forty-nine marriages) and community exogamy (forty-four marriages) for women, male unions are skewed more toward matrilateral (61 percent) than patrilateral (39 percent firstcousin marriage. While patrivirilocality, and subsequently first-cousin marriage of any order, are contributive factors, there may be additional consideration in the higher rates of MBD and, especially, MZD marriage.

While genealogically identical marriages can have different meanings, because they can result from different strategies (Eickelman 1981:132), an attempt can be made to discern social patterning in the empirical marital networks of the Zikri Baluch. Keeping in mind the accumulation of social and economic debts between kin, the marriages of one’s children serve to intensify one’s own network of reciprocity if an affinal link is fed into an already existing kin linkage. In arranging their children’s marriages, fathers, in contrast to mothers, attempt to minimize the overloading of their own networks of consanguineal obligation. While male sibling solidarity is fortified by jural norms, this does not prevent competitiveness and rivalry from characterizing fraternal relationships. Residential propinquity, for example, is as likely to result in disaffection as in solidarity between brothers. Another source of conflict is inheritance, since it is only after the death of the father that boats pass on to sons, and there is no guarantee that the amount of property will match the number of sons. While adult brothers are economically independent of one another, they are supposed to be supportive of one another as well. Inequalities in wealth, however, can lead to rivalry or transform the relationship into one of patronage. Economically less successful brothers may attempt to contract FBC unions for their children in the hope of solidifying an alliance with a more fortunate brother, but this strategy may or may not work out, and in actuality men more frequently negotiate successfully with their brothers-in-law than with their brothers.

First-cousinM arriage( N=93)
———————————————–Community — Endogamous ————- Community — Exogamous
————————————————– Men  ———— Women  ——————- Men ————  Women
N=32 (35%) ——————————–  30  —————- 19  ————————– 2  ——————13
N=25 (26%)  ——————————– 22  —————- 12  ————————– 3  ——————13
57 (61%) ————————————  52 —————— 31 ————————– 5  —————— 26

N=21 (23%)——————————— 20 —————— 15 —————————- 1 —————— 6

N=15 (16%)——————————- 13 ——————— 3 —————————– 2 ——————12
Total 36 (39%) ————————— 33 ——————– 18 —————————- 3 ——————18

Reliance and ambivalence characterize the kin networks of women as well, but not in quite the same way. More specifically, female sibling solidarity appears stronger than its male counterpart. With far fewer independent economic resources, sisters cannot make the financial demands on one another which brothers can. However, married sisters residing in the same community frequently exchange services, such as child care, sewing, and housework, and if they live in different communities, they exchange gifts at regular intervals. Sisters are motivated to forge alliances in important noneconomic ways, because, along with their mother, they can provide a buffer between themselves and their respective female affines. This role is filled most effectively if sisters are married into the same community, although frequent visitations between residentially separated sisters also promote alliance. The basic source of competition and rivalry, namely, real or potential economic inequality, which can characterize male sibling relationships, is not relevant to female siblingship. Consequently, in their more “sociological” perspective on marital negotiation, women explicitly recognize that sister’s daughter makes a compatible daughter-inlaw, and that to marry a daughter to a sister’s son is likewise advantageous.1 4

Just as affinity is incapable of delineating jurally defined groups in this setting, to speak of matrilaterality and patrilaterality in marriage patterns does not assume the carving out of groups along such lines. Nonetheless, sibling solidarity can be discussed in an appropriate bilateral context. To emphasize same-sex sibling solidarity,
particularly among women, is not to minimize opposite-sex sibling solidarity. Because of sexual segregation, practiced generally, and necessitated by the intensity of first-cousin marriage (Creswell 1976:113), brother-sister relationships are the closest same-generation, cross-sex relationships likely to develop prior to the growth of social intimacy in a compatible marriage. Along with cross-sex sibling solidarity, another factor in the negotiation of MBD-FZS marriage is the relationship between the spouses of the siblings. In the presence of a second-generation first-cousin marriage, the fathers of the couple are first cousins as well as affines in the case of MBC unions, as are the mothers in the case of FZC unions. Since patrivirilocality demographically constricts the universe of marital negotiation for sons, and thereby emphasizes marriage with a first cousin of any order, the structural significance of the combined marital-negotiator-brother-in-law-cousin relationship cannot be unravelled easily. However, with the territorially more expansive network of marital negotiation for daughters, it appears that, like MZS marriage, FZS marriage, in the instance of second-generation first-cousin marriage, provides consanguineal input into both the female network of marital negotiation and the status of daughter-inlaw.

Do women in fact differentiate between sisters-in-law who are cousins and those who are not? Aside from general observational impressions, there are at least two concrete reasons for believing that they do. First, sisters-in-law who are cousins are apt to refer to one another as cousin, not sister-in-law. Second, sisters-in-law exchange sewing and such services gratis only if they are also first cousins; otherwise, payment is required. In other words, consanguineal investment is taken into account in women’s assessments of affinity. Likewise, in recognizing the vulnerability of their daughters as brides, they attempt to invest consanguinity in their daughters’ female affinal networks. MZS marriage is the best means of achieving this goal; an alternative solution is FZS marriage, in the context of second-generation first-cousin marriage.

The overall suggestion here is that in view of preferential kin endogamy, and in terms of the separate interests of men and women in marital negotiation for their sons and daughters, women try to maximize consanguinity more than men do. Relative to women, men spread out their affinal connections, while women seek to feed affinity into their consanguineal networks. While marital strategy from the male point of view is not pursued explicitly in tandem with occupational strategy, there may be advantages to creating and maintaining a variety of linkages within an overall kin-endogamous setting. For example, financial loans are often necessary for the purchase and repair of boats and fishing equipment, and to maintain a relatively wide network within which to contract these loans is advantageous to men. Women, on the other hand, are not directly concerned with such financial considerations. In their foremost concern with the effects of marriage on the composition (the internal order and hierarchy) of their networks (Rosen 1978:571), women are more intent on creating advantage in the utilization of networks in coping with their domestic status. Ultimately, of course, resultant marital arrangements represent the implementation of compromises between conjugal pairs, siblings, and spouses of siblings, as well as among the networks entailed therein.

Marriage in the Middle Eastern context constitutes a complex system based noton positive categorial preferences (i.e., marriage rules), but on preferred individual unions. Since the majority of marriages in this ethnographic context are not between first cousins, what general relevance does the Zikri Baluch case have? First, it indicates that instead of assuming that exogamy is a deviation from endogamy (or vice versa), the demographic and other facilitators, as well as the advantage of either endogamy or exogamy, must be determined empirically. Second, it serves as a reminder that in the Middle East all arranged marriages, kin or nonkin, are operationalized through personal networks characterized by alternations in relations of dominance and dependence. To focus on networks of negotiation represents a departure from most previous approaches which, in emphasizing the derivation of prescriptive rules, have overly stressed FBD marriage or “the ‘most remarkable’ marriage strategies rather than the entire range of available marriage strategies” Eickelman (1981:131). Since social, economic, and political advantage can accrue to either exogamy or endogamy, in both the kin and the territorial sense, the analytic task is to ascertain social patterning in the accumulation of marital strategies.

Hedged in only by fundamental demographic constraints and the distribution of relations between siblings and siblings’ spouses, the Zikri Baluch are unusual only in their statistical fulfillment of a moral and normative convention which is pervasive but seldom realized in the Middle East. Among the Zikri Baluch kin exogamy is not used to gain access to political arenas or agricultural and other forms of property. By the same token, among the majority of them, kin endogamy involves no explicit corporate political or economic advantage. This is not to say that marital links have no political or economic relevance whatsoever, but that in the pursuit of marital strategy, it cannot be assumed a priori that such advantages emanate from marital alliance.

Since this is a highly pragmatic system of marriage, it must be viewed not only in ideological terms, but in pragmatic terms which focus upon reciprocity and negotiation in the actualization of social relationships (Rosen 1979:101). In order to assess the demographic patterns and structural arrangements resulting from marital negotiation in the Zikri Baluch and any other Middle Eastern case, it is necessary to recognize the interconnected differences between (1) male and female networks in the negotiation of marriage, and (2) the implications of marital strategy for sons and daughters. To focus solely on males as marital negotiators and as the objects of marital negotiation in settings characterized by pervasive sexual segregation is an unjustifiably narrow view, which neglects “the intense and precarious ‘dialectical’ relationship between men and women” in the Middle East (Fernea and Malarkey 1975:197). While both men and women calculate the activation and deactivation of their kin connections, they manipulate and elaborate kinship in different ways because their kin networks serve different functions. While Zikri Baluch women seek to further the entanglement of kinship through marital strategy, men attempt to prevent an overload in their kin obligations. The overall and significant pattern, however, is of extreme reticulation in kinship.

Lastly, to separate out affinal and consanguineal connections is not to revert to the genealogical models which previously have hindered the examination of kinship and marriage in the Middle East. It simply recognizes that the Zikri Baluch conceptualize consanguinity and affinity as different, and that they deliberately seek to feed or not to feed one into the other. This is a major consideration to take into account in the examination of any Middle Eastern group engaging in intense kin endogamy. In Middle Eastern settings not so characterized, it is a question of ascertaining the alternative empirical content of the implementation of maritalstrategy through networks of marital negotiation.

1. The research on which this paper is based was conducted in 1976-77 under the auspices of a postdoctoral grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. I thank my colleague and companion in the field, Stephen Pastner, and acknowledge the generous and stimulating comments of Dale Eickelman and Richard Kurin.

2. According to Khuri (1970:615) MZD and cross-cousin marriage are disadvantageous because of role conflict between “joking” and “formal and reserved” familial relationships.

3. The literature is varied in theoretical intent, but focuses primarily on FBD marriage. Aside from those cited elsewhere in the text, some of the main discussions include Barth (1954), Patai (1955, 1965), Murphy and Kasden (1959, 1967), Ayoub (1959), Goldberg (1967), Keyser (1974), and Meeker (1976).

4. The extent to which marriages are parentally arranged in the Muslim Middle East must not be deemphasized (Youssef 1978:80). Guardians substitute for deceased parents in marital negotiation.

5. There is some debate as to whether Pakistan should be included ethnographically in South Asia or in the Middle East. The latter designation is accurate for the Baluch since they are historically, culturally, and linguistically linked with the Iranian and the Afghan Baluch (Gulick 1976:9).

6. Johnson and Bond (1974) remind us to be wary of societal caricatures which mutually exclusively stress the predominance of kinship obligations on the one hand, or, on the other, individual choice and self-interest. Zikri Baluch are typical in their operationalization of both premises, although ideologically kinship obligation is emphasized. See S. Pastner (1978) for a discussion of how normative and real behavior intersect in political and religious leadership among the Zikri Baluch.

7. The extent to which men and women have limited social contact with one another is made evident in sex-based territoriality which, consistent with the sexual division of labor, relegates the beach and the sea to men, and the village to women. This territoriality is enforced on children when they reach seven or eight years of age.

8. At one point in 1976, of 66 crew members on 28 multicrew boats operating out of the village, 23 were the sons of captains; only 8 of the crewmen were brothers or sons-inlaw of captains.

9. On a brief return visit to the village in 1979, S. Pastner found that 20 percent of the adult male labor force was abroad.

10. Creswell (1976:105-6) makes a case for including such unions with first-cousin marriages. A more conservative view is taken here, so that cross-generational marriages are included in the category of classificatory-cousin marriage.

11. The other three communities include a Zikri Baluch mohalla (“neighborhood”) in Karachi, and two fishing villages, approximately fourteen and twenty kilometers, respectively, to the west along the coast from the village in which fieldwork was conducted. Until fairly recently the four communities were mutually accessible only by boat or camel; bus service is now available.

12. Of the twenty-six marriages contracted in the two generations descended from the village founder, eleven are between first patriparallel cousins and six are between second patriparallel cousins.

13. Because of the overemphasis in the literature on FBD marriage, it is difficult to make comparisons. According to Antoun (1976:166-68), 10 to 15 percent is a typical rate of FBD marriage, but this provides no indication of the significance (or lack thereof) of MZD or cross-cousin marriage.

14. Khuri (1970:616) indicates such advantages for women in MZC marriage, but at the same time (incorrectly) emphasizes in a bilateral, nonsegmentary setting the incongruity of parent-in-law and uncle/aunt relationships in cross-cousin marriage. The actual reasons for the contraction or noncontraction of crosscousin marriage must be sought elsewhere; namely, in the viability of negotiation between cross-sex siblings and their spouses.

Altourki, S., 1977, Family Organization and Women’s Power in Urban Saudi Arabia. Journal of Anthropological Research 33:277- 87.

Antoun, R.T., 1976, Anthropology. Pp. 166-68 in The Study of the Middle East (ed. by L. Binder). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Ayoub, M., 1959, Parallel Cousin Marriage and Endogamy: A Study in Sociometry. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 15:266-75.

Barth, F., 1954, Father’s Brother’s Daughter Marriage in Kurdistan. Southwestern Journal
of Anthropology 10:164-71.

Barth, F., 1973, Descent and Marriage Reconsidered. Pp. 3-19 in The Character of Kinship (ed. byJ. Goody). London: Cambridge University Press.

Boon, J.A., 1976, The Balinese Marriage Predicament: Individual, Strategical, Cultural. American Ethnologist 3:191-214.

Creswell, R., 1976, Lineage Endogamy Among Maronite Mountaineers. Pp. 101-14 in Mediterranean Family Structures (ed. by J.G. Peristiany). London: Cambridge University Press.

Eickelman, D.F. 1981, The Middle East: An Anthropological Approach. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Fernea, R.A. and J.M. Malarkey, 1975,

Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa: A Critical Assessment. Pp. 193-206 in Annual Review of Anthropology (ed. by B.J. Siegal).

Palo Alto: Annual Reviews. Geertz, H., 1979, The Meaning of Family Ties. Pp. 315-79 in Meaning and Order in
Moroccan Society (ed. by C. Geertz, H. Geertz, and L. Rosen). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gilbert, J.P. and E.A. Hammel, 1966, Computer Simulation and Analysis of Problems in Kinship and Social Structure. American Anthropologist 68:71-93.

Goldberg, H., 1967, FBD Marriage and Demography Among Tripolitanian Jews. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 23:176-91.

Gulick, J., 1976, The Middle East: An Anthropological Perspective. Pacific Palisades: Goodyear.
Hammel, E.A. and H. Goldberg, 1971,

Parallel Cousin Marriage. Man 6:488-89. Johnson, A. and G.C. Bond, 1974, Kinship, Friendship and Exchange in Two Communities: A Comparative Analysis of Norms and Behavior.

Journal of Anthropological Research 30:55-68. Keyser, J.M.B., 1974, The Middle Eastern Case: Is There a Marriage Rule? Ethnology 13:293-309.

Khuri, E., 1970, Parallel Cousin Marriage Reconsidered: A Middle Eastern Practice that Nullifies the Effects of Marriage on the Intensity of Family Relationships. Man 5:597-618.

Lebra, T.S., 1975, An Alternative Approach to Reciprocity. American Anthropologist 77: 550-65. Meeker, M., 1976, Meaning and Society in the Near East: Examples from the Black Sea Turks and the Levantine Arabs. International Journal of Middle East Studies 2:243-70 and 3:383-422.

Murphy, R. and L. Kasden, 1959, The Structure of Parallel Cousin Marriage. American Anthropologist 61:17-29.

Murphy, R. and L. Kasden, 1967, Agnation and Endogamy: Some Further Considerations. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 23:1- 14.

Pastner, C.McC., 1979, Cousin Marriage Among the Zikri Baluch of Coastal Pakistan. Ethnology 18:31-47.

Pastner, S., 1978, Power and Pirs among the Pakistani Baluch. Journal of Asian and African Studies 13:231-43.

Patai, R., 1955, Cousin Right in Middle Eastern Marriage. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 11:371-90.

Patai, R., 1965, The Structure of Endogamous Unilineal Descent Groups. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 21:325-50.

Peters, E., 1976, Aspects of Affinity in a Lebanese Maronite Village. Pp. 27-79 in Mediterranean
Family Structures (ed. by J.G. Peristiany). London: Cambridge University Press.

Pitt-Rivers, J., 1977, The Fate of Shechem or the Politics of Sex. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rosen, L., 1978, The Negotiation of Reality: Male-Female Relations in Sefrou, Morocco. Pp. 561-84 in Women in the Muslim World (ed. by L. Beck and N. Keddie). Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Rosen, L., 1979, Social Identity and Points of Attachment: Approaches to Social Organiza-tion. Pp. 19-111 in Meaning and Order in Moroccan Society (ed. by C. Geertz, H. Geertz, and L. Rosen). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Youssef, N.H., 1978, The Status and Fertility Patterns of Muslim Women. Pp. 69-99 in Women in the Muslim World (ed. by L. Beck and N. Keddie). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
This article has been Published:
Journal of Anthropological Research,
Vol. 37, No. 4 (Winter, 1981), pp. 305-318
University of New Mexico

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Investment and Translocality Recontextualizing the Baloch in Islamic and Global History

(Research Paper)

By Brian Spooner *1
Department of Anthropology

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Professor Brian Spooner

Professor Brian Spooner

The Baloch are one of the best documented ethnic communities in the modern Islamic world. But the information comes from non-Baloch, who saw them as a tribal population, with their own history and culture, separate from the people around them. This conventional approach masks the continuities in their history, from their raiding of urban populations over a thousand years ago to their current national opposition movements in Iran and Pakistan and their recent association with international terrorism. But if studied in a larger context, both historical and geographical, the available information illustrates the continuities, through qualitative changes, from the earliest available sources down to the present. Enlarging the context in this way has an additional advantage: it enhances our understanding of other world-historical processes that are currently playing out under globalization.

An important variable in this history is locality, the cultural evaluation of location, and translocality, the way locality changes as the social context becomes more complex—variables that have received little attention from either historians or ethnographers. Locality is determined mainly by investment and the social interests resulting from investment. Where there was sufficient soil and water to support investment in irrigation engineering and agricultural development, small communities settled and grew into cities. As the cities grew, they developed trade networks, which further increased their investment potential. The Baloch, like other ‘tribal’ peoples in the arid zone of the northern hemisphere, formed from people who did not find a place in this urban social dynamic.

They are people without investment, who remained historically independent of the cities, but were always there to replenish the cities demographically in times of economic growth, and to take in their economic refugees in times of decline. This history of demographic interdependence, between the cities which could increase their productivity by means of investment and the tribal people who could not, generated a culturally distinctive sense of locality throughout the arid zone, which was different from the temperate and subtropical zones to the north and south.

More recently, as translocality has accelerated with the increasing social complexity of globalization, the people without investment have been forced into political and economic dependence on the cities, but the new city-based nation-state governments responsible for them have so far largely continued to leave them without investment. In the new political framework of the information age the tribes rebel. Similar developments are evident among tribal populations in other parts of the modern Islamic world, and make interesting comparison with similar populations elsewhere.

1. Recontextualizing the Baloch
The Baloch, who form the majority population in southwest Afghanistan, southeast Iran and the west of Pakistan, may be the best documented tribal population in the Islamic world. But our knowledge of them comes from several different types of research, carried out at different times over the past century and a half. Each comes with its own assumptions and presents the Baloch in a particular way, with little or no reference to other sources, or to a larger historical context that would accommodate all the available information. In order to make the best use of all the available sources, it is necessary to consider them more holistically and historically as part of a geographically larger social process, rather than simply an isolated ‘tribal’ population. We are inhibited in this effort by the peculiar history of Baloch studies, and the fact that all our information is from non-Baloch sources.

Each source has been culturally flavored by the particular Western academic context in which it was produced. Although the data have been strung together in a comprehensive encyclopedia article (Spooner 1988), there has been no attempt to integrate it into a larger picture either of Islamic civilization or of modern society. Before we can do this, however, two theoretical issues must be addressed: the problem of change, and the use of the term ‘tribe.’

Change has always been inherent in all human situations. But in most cases until recently it has not been fast enough to be appreciable in the course of a field research project. Where historians have mainly looked for political or other narratives in literate societies, or sometimes for memory of the past in non-literate societies, anthropologists have looked for the functional interdependence of various social institutions among the non-literate. Neither has been sensitive to the underlying dynamics of longer-term qualitative socio-cultural change. Even political scientists who study the contemporary Baloch in terms of modern Pakistani politics do not ask how or why Baloch activities have changed since their Pakistani province was first formed in 19482. In fact, change has received relatively little theoretical or methodological attention in social science in general. As an ethnographer of the Baloch in the 1960s, I confess that, although I knew the Baloch had not always been the same and that some of them were currently attempting to change their situation, I focused only on the day-to-day life in which I was participating among them. Even though this was the end of the colonial period, I had not been trained to expect change or to seek to explain it. I was there to collect data that would contribute to the major anthropological discussions of the time, which concerned the social and economic organization of small pre-industrial communities and their ecological viability, not their past (which was generally assumed to be unknowable) or their political future. Furthermore, no social scientist at that time (and few since then) focused on the explanation of how people arrived at the condition in which they were observed, or what sort of trajectory of change they were on and where they were heading. We were working in the theoretical age of structural-functionalism. We wanted to understand how the system worked, not how it was changing.

Change had begun to appear in the curriculum in the 1950s, when the rate of change in the world at large began to accelerate, as the comparative study of a particular community at two different times, or later as the investigation of a ‘prime-mover’ such as population growth. But it did not appear in research design until much later, and has still not become a major focus. Even now, when the rate of social change everywhere, especially in the post-colonial world, has increased to the point where it cannot be ignored, social science has not worked out how to deal with it methodologically, except perhaps in quantitative, statistical terms, which while they provide handy analytical descriptions, do not explain. This paper selects from all the available data with the purpose of showing inter-related processes and themes over time, continuities from the earliest data down to the present, rather than a succession of discrete situations. The basic assumption is that culture grows from experience, and in order to understand the cultural factors in day-to-day life we need to investigate the historical experience that conditioned it.

The term ‘tribe’ has a long history, starting as a section of the population of ancient Rome. We adopted the term in the 17th century for all small-scale, non-literate communities outside the world’s historical civilizations, communities organized around the group experience of kinship and descent, in (for example) Siberia, Sub-Saharan Africa or the pre-Columbian Americas. Then we easily extended the term to non-literate peoples like the Baloch who, although their lives were organized in similar terms of kinship and descent, were encapsulated within a literate civilization, such as Islam, because we studied them in the same way, as isolates. We were interested in them not because they were part of Islamic civilization, but as examples of small-scale, non-literate society. But as a translation of (Ar.-Pers.) `ashira, qabila, tā’ifa, or (Pers.-Turk.) il in the Islamic world, ‘tribe’ is not the same social formation as the other non-literate peoples we call tribes outside the world’s historical civilizations, who (unlike the Baloch) before the colonial period had no dealings with markets or
administrations based on literacy, that maintain a written record of the past, providing a control for living memory and extending the cultural sense of time. That extension of the same analytical term for non-literate communities into the Islamic situation, where people who do not read or write are nevertheless aware of the larger society which is governed by literacy, has misled us into ignoring the larger social history of the Baloch.

The Baloch may have written no history of their own (at least until the 1950s), but they know they have a place in other people’s history, if only because of their awareness of Islam. They are not the same category of social formation as those who were recently given a place in the literature as “The People without History” (Wolf 1982). Most research on the Baloch has ignored this, and focused on nomadism, pastoralism and tribalism alone, because of the academic interests and assumptions of the investigators.

The Baloch are known outside their own territory from four major sets of external sources: early Arabic and Persian sources from over a thousand years ago; the Imperial Gazetteers of British India, which are based on data collected by missionaries and administrators in the second half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th; anthropological studies based on ethnographic research that was carried out between 1958 and 1978, and investigative journalism of the past three decades or so (such as Harrison 1981 and Wirsing 2008). Baloch studies began in the 1850s, following the extension of British Indian administration northwestwards through Sindh and Punjab to secure the only vulnerable land frontier of the Subcontinent by including areas inhabited by Baloch and Pashtuns. Geographical, linguistic and ethnographic studies that served British administrative interests were carried out in the following decades mainly under British government auspices, but also to some extent by missionaries, and brought together in 1908 in the publication of the eight volume Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series3. The study of the Balochi language began to be included in Iranistics in the 1930s (cf. Morgenstierne 1932, 1948). In the 1950s anthropologists were attracted to the area. First Pehrson (1966), then Nina and Warren Swidler (1973 and 1968), followed by several others (listed in Spooner 1985 and 1998), carried out ethnographic research in Baloch communities in Iran and Pakistan in the 1960s and early 1970s. These writers were pursuing questions of social organization, economy and ecology that had been posed by Fredrik Barth (1961), and were generally ahistorical. Starting at about the same time textual scholars began to pay attention to earlier information on the Baloch from pre-Islamic Persian sources and from the Arab geographers of the 9th and 10th centuries. All this information has been analytically reviewed (Bosworth 1976), and presents a very different picture of the Baloch from the Gazetteers and ethnographies. Finally, starting in the 1980s, and especially since 2001, a new genre has emerged, of journalistic political science, concerned with Pakistani national development, relations with Afghanistan, and terrorism (cf. e.g. Kaplan 2009).

Meanwhile, studies of the Baloch by Baloch authors began to appear in Pakistan, in Balochi, Urdu and English in the 1950s. The Balochi Academy was established in Quetta by the Federal Government of Pakistan in 1961, and the Balochistan Study Centre was formed in the University of Balochistan in Quetta in 1997. An increasing number of books have been published about the Baloch by Baloch authors in recent decades (of which the most notable is Baloch, 1987), which are mainly vehicles for modern nationalist ambitions4. Still relatively little attention has been given to this field beyond the Baloch themselves and the small number of European and American scholars who have studied them. The furthest they have moved towards international recognition has been in the international meetings organized by the Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies (IsMEO, Rome), and the
History of Baluch Studies meetings that have been organized at Uppsala University by Dr. Carina Jahani (see especially Jahani and Korn 2003, and Jahani, Korn and Titus 2008). Perhaps the recent UNESCO-sponsored Workshop on Baluch Identity and Culture (Brock University, Sept. 8-9, 2012) presages an upswing in international attention to the Baloch. But the focus is still on the cultural interest of the Baloch and what they can tell us about human cultural diversity, rather than the part they have played in the history of the region and in world history in general.

The early Arabic and Persian writers see the Baloch very differently from the later sources, from the perspective of what Hodgson (1974, Vol. 1, pp. 107-109) called an agrarianate citied civilization: as people who challenged the economic and political order of the city, as outlaws to be controlled or eliminated5. The Gazetteers, on the other hand, were compiled a century ago in order to facilitate efficient colonial administration. Half a century later, in the 1950s, the anthropologists were seeking answers to contemporary anthropological questions about surviving pre-industrial economies and their ecological viability. Finally, the journalists studying them more recently have been concerned with Pakistan’s current problems of national integration and international relations.

In each set of sources each author type-casts the Baloch according to his/her particular research interests. None of them appears to have studied the other sets of publications. Few recent commentators have read even selectively from all four sets. Each set, therefore, presents a synchronic view of Baloch culture and society, and fails to see them in historical perspective. Since the Baloch left no contemporary record of their own before the mid-20th century, there is no reliable guide for understanding all four sets in relation to each other. Since literacy and the literate record were organized by the urban elites, we know the Baloch historically only from the work of urban historians who were ideologically opposed to them. But since the sources cover a period of fifteen hundred years, they may be used for a historical reconstruction that will allow us to see the Baloch today in terms of a historical trajectory. Here, therefore, we attempt to develop this trajectory by setting out what seems to be the more significant data from each source. This is a historical summary only. More detail is available in Bosworth 1976 and Spooner 1988.

The people who originally brought the Balochi language to the area that after 1839 became known as Balochistan (or Baluchistan) first in British India (now Pakistan) west of the Indus valley and later in southeastern Iran, also brought with them the oral tradition of Balochi epic poetry (cf. Dames 1904, Elfenbein 2008). They appear to have arrived as one or more of a series of waves of migrants that entered the area from the northwest between roughly 1000 and 1600 CE. This immediately raises questions: what was causing them to move? Where were they coming from, and why were people moving into this area in particular? Were they displacing others or taking them over? Did their arrival change the geo-political or geo-economic relationship of this area with surrounding areas? Since it is a large area, some 500,000 square kilometers, bordering on the Persian Gulf which has been a major seaway between Mesopotamia and India since the earliest times, the questions carry some larger historical significance.

The earliest (pre-Islamic) references to the Baloch pair them with the Kuch (from Kufich or Qufs, ‘mountain people’). These sources were used in the Shahnama, the classical Persian epic, which was composed in the early 11th century. Several 10th-11th-century Arabic geographical writers mention them in the Kerman area south of the central desert of the Iranian Plateau. Linguistic evidence has been used to suggest that they had come from the northern side of the Iranian Plateau, and their language has been classified as Northwest Iranian (a category that includes Kurdish). But no one has explained why they moved south, or why they later moved east.

In most of these sources the Baloch are mentioned as fighters and outlaws, more than as pastoralists, and they appear never to be identified with any particular location or territory. For example:
“They appear above all as a bellicose and rapacious race of bandits, and this not only in the historical and geographical sources, but also in the Shah-nama of Firdausi, where the Kuch u Baluch are mentioned more than once for their hardihood and prowess in battle, e.g. as part of Kai Khusrau’s forces, and for their skill in fighting with the dagger” (Bosworth 1976: 12).

Again, Maqdisi (in the Ahsan at-taqāsim fi ma’rifat al-aqālim, in ca. 375/985) has a classic description of the barbarism of the Kufichis and Baluch, who in his time were terrorizing the caravan routes across the great central deserts of the Lut and the Kavir. Ibn Hauqal’s information of a decade or two earlier that the Baluch were a pacific, pastoralist people who helped travelers rather than preyed upon them does not accord with that of Maqdisi. The latter states, in his section on the Great Desert, which he himself had crossed:
“The whole of it [sc. the Great Desert] is a fearful place, because of a people called the Qufs, who inhabit some mountains in Kirman which adjoin the region of Jiruft. From these mountains, they sweep down to the Desert just like locusts. They are a race with no propensity whatsoever towards goodness; they have savage faces, stony hearts, fierceness and hardness. They never spare anyone, and are not satisfied with just taking money. Nor do they put to death with their weapons anyone they get hold of; on the contrary, they pound their heads with a stone, just as one kills snakes; you see them hold a man’s head down on a flat stone and pound it with a stone until it is split open. I asked them why they did this, and they replied, ‘In this way, we don’t damage our sword blades!’ Only rarely does anyone manage to escape from them. They possess places of concealment and impregnable mountains, and whenever they are cornered in one administrative region, they merely flee to another. They fight with [bows and] arrows and carry swords. The Balus used to be even worse than the Qufs, until ‘Adud ad-Daula destroyed them, and wrought damage amongst the Qufs also. He carried off as hostages 80 of their youths, and up to this present time, they are kept in imprisonment at Shiraz; every so often these are sent back home, and another 80 taken in their place. The regions of Dailam adjoining the Great Desert are safe from them, but the fringes of Khurasan are liable to their depredations. However, provided that a caravan has an armed escort from the ruler of Fars, they do not molest it. Amongst the whole of God’s creation, they have the most tenacious qualities of endurance of hunger and thirst. Their staple food is only a modicum, such as nuts from the lotus tree, from which they derive nourishment. They profess Islam, but are more savage against the Muslims than the Byzantines or Turks. When they take a man captive, they make him run with them 20 farsakhs or so, with bare feet and no food. They have no inclination for riding horses, and do not employ mounts at all; they go on foot essentially, except that sometimes they ride on swift camels” (Bosworth 1976: 14).

The fact that ibn Hauqal’s account differs from Maqdisi’s I would understand not as invalidating the former, but as validating the hypothesis that they were ready to take advantage of whatever opportunities they saw and their activities varied. We know very little about the history of Balochistan before their arrival. What information does exist suggests that before the 17th century it figured very differently in the geo-politics of the region. During the Achaemenian Empire (650-330 BCE), and later when Alexander the Great moved his army from India through Makran in 324 BCE on the way back to Mesopotamia, the area was an administrative province known as Gedrosia (though this name is not known from Achaemenian sources), which suggests that it was at least primarily agricultural (since there is no pre-modern historical example of nomads under an imperial administration). Arrian’s account of the passage of Alexander’s army suggests that the region was not prosperous, but the fact that it is named as a province under Achaemenian rule implies that its administration had been worthwhile, and it is noteworthy that both Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan today contain many small agricultural settlements which have names with apparently pre-Baloch etymologies, such as Bampur, Dezak, and Qasr-e Qand in Iran and Khārān, Panjgur and Torbat in Pakistan, and Qal`a-i Fatḥ in Afghanistan (cf. Spooner 1988). But when the Arabs arrived in the middle of the 7th century, they (like Alexander) found it generally unattractive and apparently without any local ruler, though Sasanian sources (224- 651 CE) name four administrative entities within it, each with “kings” (cf. Bosworth 1968: 1-25).

In the 13th century Marco Polo mentions Kesmacoran (i.e. Kech-Makran), suggesting that the agricultural settlements along the Kech river (now in the Makran district of the Pakistan province) were the most flourishing part of the area. Food is mentioned as abundant and good, with the full range of staples (rice, wheat, meat and milk). Again, Kech had its own king [malek], and the people, who included non-Muslims, apparently traded both overland and by sea in all directions, and spoke a language Polo did not recognize. He also makes it appear that the area is more closely connected to India than to the political centers on the Iranian Plateau to the north or northwest.

It is not surprising then that when the Baloch arrived in their current location they did not name it6. It would appear that when the area ceased to be administered from one of the major imperial centers to the northwest, the north or the east (e.g. Kerman, Qandahar, Delhi), there was nothing to give it a unitary identity, and it became a refuge area for people who lost their place under those citied administrations. People who could not find a place in those city-centered economies did not pursue tribally organized nomadic pastoral life by preference, but by default. So long as they could not find a place in the city-centered investment7 economies, they went off with their animals and took advantage of whatever resources became available to them, including raiding the cities, when feasible. Nomads in general historical terms have been people who were unable to build an economic base to support themselves in larger clustered numbers that would enable them to marshal the labor necessary for investment and engineering that would increase agricultural productivity and generate inter-urban trade. Since their society did not become large enough to develop urban institutions, it operated on the basis of the their own cultural version of the relationships that come with the life-cycle processes of reproduction and socialization, which we recognize as the tribal criteria of kinship and descent. They move from one resource to another, taking with them the only assets that are mobile, their flocks. They are not so much pastoral nomads as multiple-resource freebooters with sheep and goats and no irrigable land (cf. Salzman 1972).

When agricultural centers were available, they took them over. But control of land changed their social organization. Pastoralism depends on cooperation and collective responsibility; agriculture depends on management and labor. Management becomes land-ownership and class differentiation.

So in Balochistan some families were able to take over the existing agricultural centers (irrigated from springs, without the need for investment in irrigation engineering), and establish their own independent political centers. The Baluchistan described by the British in the late 19th century and by anthropologists in the mid-20th was one in which all the locations with some ten hectares or more of cultivable soil and surface water that could be used for irrigation had been taken over by one or another leading tribal family (khans) who managed the land with people who had been reduced to the status of peasants, helots or serfs (their status varied from place to place)8, while the remaining parts where there was insufficient surface water to irrigate crops were roamed by nomadic groups of varying sizes. Since the nomadic groups were small they looked for opportunities to serve the land-owning families, and cultivated various types of relationships with them.

This was a small-scale variant of the pattern suggested by ibn Khaldun in the 14th century as a model for the political history of most of the Islamic world up to the 19th century. Ibn Khaldun saw ruling groups rising and falling “according to the strength and weakness of their internal coherence, their ‘group feeling’ (‘asabiya); their progress from simplicity through power and wealth as necessary for civilization (‘omran) to wasteful luxury under the preeminent force of economic factors; and their inevitable replacement in endless cycles—a combination of psychological and material determinants of human society” (Rosenthal 1997; cf. Rosenthal 1967) with the result that most power centers in Islamic civilization, both large (such as the Persianate empires of the Saljuqs, Timurids, Ottomans) and small (such as agricultural centers in Makran) have been headed by families with tribal origins, and have maintained their position on average only some three generations, before personal power and land ownership disturbed their esprit de corps [‘asabiya]; and they were supplanted by the next tribal group with stronger ‘asabiya.

We can now expand ibn Khaldun’s model: the advantage of the more complex urban society is that although the morale of the ruling family decays (loses its `asabiya) its investment potential still facilitates accelerated growth, which increases social complexity, whereas the population outside the cities is tribal, not because they have the `asabiya of ‘noble savages’, but because they do not have the resources or the ability to increase productivity and develop the social complexity of cities.

Before the industrial age, identity in complex societies was always in land. The overall geographical mobility of most of the world’s population has been restricted since the beginning of agriculture because the primary resource was agricultural land. When the opportunity of migration to the Americas opened up in the early modern period, the attraction was not only religious freedom, it was new land. When industrialization began to release people from land in the 18th century, mobility began to increase, and has continued to increase as attachment to agricultural land has diminished.

The groups we call tribal are groups that have no significant fixed assets such as land, but only mobile assets, or assets without investment that restricts mobility. Their identity is in their interdependence with each other, which develops in the course of the life cycle, forming a society based on kinship and descent—the social formation we call tribal. Although they develop a counter-culture outside the cities, they also emulate the activities of the cities wherever the opportunity arises. The tribal leaders who established themselves over the years in the various agricultural centers of Balochistan were following the model of tribal leaders who periodically took over the big cities of Islamic civilization. Since none of the larger cities to the immediate northwest (e.g. Kerman), north (e.g. Qandahar) or east (e.g. Lahore or Delhi) saw any advantage in investing in Balochistan and controlling it, it became identified with the Baloch from the outside, and was eventually formalized with that identity in the post-colonial era of nation-states. But because of its internal inability to generate investment, it has failed to achieve its own independent status as a nation-state. Although the people who brought the Balochi language to Balochistan succeeded in ‘Balochizing’ this vast area, they did not draw all its inhabitants into a homogeneous Baloch identity.

All Muslims who settled there came to identify as Baloch (i.e. all except some small groups of Hindu or Sikh traders), but they also claim diverse origins—as diverse as Arab, Indian, Iranian and Pashtun. Some identify with their local village and may be descended from the earlier inhabitants. All talk of the (relatively) few remaining nomads, who live away from the agricultural settlements, mainly in mountainous areas, as baloch, i.e. the real Baloch (i.e. descendants of the cultural and linguistic ancestors). Although all use Balochi as the lingua franca, many speak other languages among themselves. A form of Persian is spoken around Kalat, and in the Saravan district of western Baluchistan. A form of Sindhi (known as Jadgāli9) is the language of Dashtiāri (the extended coastal plain on the Iranian side of the modern border with Pakistan, and there are several groups of Brahui10 speakers in the area known as Saravan south of Kalat, and also scattered along the Afghan border. What makes an inhabitant of Balochistan a Baloch is Islam, the use of the Balochi language for public purposes, and a political relationship with one of the leading families in the agricultural settlements (cf. Barth 1964).

There are also a significant number of Baloch outside Balochistan, who migrated from Balochistan in pursuit of opportunity before or during the colonial period, without retaining any attachment to the area or to other Baloch. Some moved north into the Turkic areas that became northern Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, where living among Turkmen communities in the 19th century they took up carpet-weaving, developing a new genre, which has attracted the attention of collectors only in recent decades (cf. Spooner 1986). In the 16th and 17th centuries many became involved with, and exploited the presence of, the Portuguese, and later the Dutch and the British in the Persian Gulf. Some were taken on as mercenaries by the Alam family in the Qaenat11. Some migrated to Oman and other parts of the Arab side of the Persian Gulf. In Oman the Sultan of Muscat recruited them to serve as a militia for his maritime empire in the 19th century. Many settled in Zanzibar and East Africa (Nicolini 2006 and 2007). Baloch traders were operating in western Congo in 1958 (Kopytoff 1968). Many more moved into Punjab and Sindh. But their territorial identity did not spread with them. Since the middle of the 20th century many have found employment in merchant shipping and other opportunities to move further afield into Europe and America.

When European ships began to arrive in the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf in the 16th century, they found the area occupied by Baloch, with little if any control from the Persian capital in Esfahan or the provincial center in Kerman. Moreover they found the Baloch to be dangerous, but also ready to be taken on as mercenaries. It was probably the arrival of the Europeans that awakened Safavid (Persian) interest in the coastal area, and the resulting activity of the Safavids that drew the attention of the Mughals in India. The city of Qandahar (in what was later to become southern Afghanistan), which had been the closest city to the area and the most influential, actually changed hands more than once between the Safavid and Mughal Empires during this period. But the interests of both began to wane later in the 17th century, and in 1666 Ahmad Khan, a Baloch (from a Brahuispeaking family) managed to supplant the Hindu ruler of Kalat, and establish an independent Baloch political identity. Kalat was the largest agricultural center on the eastern side of the area, and it then became the major Baloch political center, a proto-city in the Islamic world, that would later become recognized as the political center of the Princely State of Baluchistan. But Ahmad Khan did not call it Baluchistan (or Balochistan). Throughout its history the political primacy of this center was under varying degrees of threat not only from Iran, India and (after 1747) Afghanistan, but also from tribal leaders in the lesser agricultural centers of the area (Kharan and Torbat). It maintained the same line of succession down to its inclusion into Pakistan in 1948. But its strongest period was the second half of the 18th century, under Nasir Khan, and its identity might not have survived through the 19th century, had the British not decided to use it for indirect rule.

It is interesting that the history of Balochistan down to this point is roughly parallel to the history of Afghanistan, though on a somewhat reduced scale. The ‘Afghanization’ of Afghanistan began only in 1747, when another Ahmad Khan, Ahmad Abdali (mentioned above in footnote 3) established a major empire from Qandahar in the area that had been known historically as Khorasan. In the 19th century when Russian and British encroachment reduced the territory of the Afghan empire to the present borders of Afghanistan, it was cut off from the inter-city trade of the Central Asian Silk Route and began to be named by outsiders (initially the British) as the separate territory of Afghanistan, and was treated by them in a way similar to the ‘Princely States’ that were directly subordinated to the British Government in Calcutta. Like Balochistan, its survival into the 20th century was the result of British support, in this case because the British wanted to maintain a buffer between themselves and the Russian Empire.

In the 19th century, the beginning of the period for which information is more abundant, although there was some armed resistance to British control, Balochistan was generally peaceful, with a mixed agricultural-pastoral economy. British influence had also spread westwards from India up into the Persian Gulf, first with the laying of the telegraph line in the 1860s, and later in order to counteract German activity at the time of the First World War. The extension of British interests into Balochistan from the east was countered by the extension of Persian interests southeast from Kerman in the north west under Muhammad Shah Qajar in the 1840s. The border between India and Iran was eventually formalized in 1871, dividing Baluchistan between India and Iran, and later (in 1893) cutting off the northeastern fringe as part of Afghanistan. Although the criteria for this division were somewhat unclear (cf. Goldschmid 1876), the line appears to have been drawn along the furthest extent of the historical influence of the Khan of Kalat.

In the following decades, on the western side of the border, as Persian attention faded again, local landowning families began to re-exert their independence. In 1907 Bahram Khan Baranzai in Dezak (in Saravan district on the Iranian side of the border) began a movement to establish a state parallel to Kalat. He was the leader of a Pashtun Barakzai group, related to the Afghan dynastic line that had migrated through Sistan into Western Baluchistan from Afghanistan in the early 19th century, probably escaping from the internecine fighting in the Afghan ruling clans in Herat at the time of the change of dynasty in the early 1820s. They had assimilated to Baloch identity, and spoke only Balochi and Persian, but remembered their Afghan heritage. When Bahram died without male offspring in 1921, his nephew, Dost Muhammad Barakzai (namesake of the Afghan Shah of 1826 to 1839 and 1845 to 1863), took his place. After the change of dynasty in Tehran in 1925 the new shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi, who had a more modern (i.e. national and territorial) orientation towards Iran than his Qajar predecessors (who had continued to think in the traditional terms of empire rather than modern terms of nationalism), turned his attention to the tribal populations around the borders. As the furthest from Tehran, Baluchistan was the last on his list. When his army finally arrived there in 1928, Dost Muhammad Khan’s forces dispersed and he was captured. Western (Iranian) Baluchistan was separated from Kerman, and became the southern part of Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan, centered on Zahedan. The Barakzai family that had led the resistance took refuge on the British side of the border for a decade before arranging a peaceful return. From then until the British withdrawal from India in 1947, Baluchistan remained calm under the Persian and British Indian administrations. On the British side the northern strip along the border with Afghanistan was administered directly from Calcutta (later New Delhi) as British Baluchistan, with a major administrative center in Quetta, while the core areas of Baloch khans in Kalat, Kharan, and Makran were ruled indirectly as a Princely State with Kalat as the main center. But the price of this calm was the subsidies that the British were paying down to their departure to several of the Khans not only on the Indian side of the border but also from time to time on the Iranian side. Baluchistan was still peripheral territory with sparse population and no investment (even in the agricultural centers), but the Baloch were becoming increasingly aware of opportunities in the cities beyond their territory.

The imposition of nation-state frameworks on the Baloch, starting in Iran in 1928, changed not only the formalities of administrative relationships with two modernizing countries, Iran and later Pakistan, but also the nature of the relationship between the Baloch and other countries in the surrounding region, especially Afghanistan, Oman and the Emirates of the Persian Gulf. On the Pakistani side, when the British withdrew in 1947, the Khan of Kalat, supported by the other Khans in Kharan and Makran assumed, like the government in Afghanistan, that everything would return to the way it was before the British arrived: Baluchistan would be an independent state. But only seven months later, in March 1948, the Khan of Kalat was persuaded to sign Baluchistan over to Pakistan, and both the Princely State and British Baluchistan together became the new Pakistani Province of Balochistan with Quetta as its administrative center, circumscribed by the borders drawn by the British12. In Afghanistan the Baloch are a small ethnic minority in the southeastern provinces of Nimruz, Helmand, and Qandahar, but they did not receive any formal recognition as an ethnic or linguistic community until after the revolution of 1978.

In all three countries the Baloch now found their status changed. They were no longer the excluded (but independent) people in a marginalized territory. They were now administratively integrated into a nation-state that they did not choose, and formally subordinated to a central urban authority in each country, with minimal representation at the center, and still experiencing the mediaeval discrimination of the cities against the people who were not part of the agricultural hinterland that benefitted from investment. Their investment potential had not changed. It was not long before opposition and hostility became evident on both sides of the border. The Afghan response to British withdrawal had been to assume that borders drawn by the British (in particular the Durand Line drawn in 1893 that divided Pashtun territory between Afghanistan and India) lost their validity and most of what had become West Pakistan would return to Afghan rule. They therefore promoted the idea of a Pashtunistan to include not only all the Pashtun lands of southern Afghanistan, but also Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and Balochistan. (The latter had been under Afghan rule during the first decade of Ahmad Shah Durrani’s rule, and continued to maintain a close relationship with Afghanistan until the arrival of the British.) It is not clear to what extent this Afghan action may have strengthened any Baloch resolve to remain independent of Pakistan.

In Iran the leading members of the Sardārzai tribe in Bahu Kalāt (the main settlement in the Dashtiāri plain) were involved with independence movements that had arisen among Baloch on the other side of the Persian Gulf, supported by Iraq, against the government in Tehran. In 1973 a cache of bombs was found in the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad (which became the capital of Pakistan in 1970), which may have been destined for delivery to the Baloch in Iran (because of Iraq’s border disputes with Iran), but was blamed on the Marri tribe in Pakistan. After Iran’s revolution in 1979, several Baloch opinion leaders in Iran took refuge again across the border, this time in Karachi, and began to seek American assistance against the new Islamic Republic. They claimed to have been funded by the CIA at an earlier time to organize raids across Afghanistan into the Soviet Union.

Another group, from the Rigi tribe in the Sarhadd (northern Iranian Balochistan), launched a new resistance movement called Jundullah in the early 2000s (designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2010 by the U.S. Bureau of Counterterrorism). In Pakistan open rebellion began before the end of the 1950s, but was contained until the discovery of the arms shipment in 1973, after which a significant number of Marri migrated across the (poorly marked) border into Afghanistan and launched the Baloch People’s Liberation Front, which later became the Balochistan Liberation Army. The Marri returned to Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the political situation between them (and an increasing number of other Baloch) and the Federal Government in Islamabad has been deteriorating ever since, to the point where it is now critical.

This synopsis summarizes some fifteen hundred years of history in a brief narrative, distinct from the separate unlinked episodes that were previously available. It achieves this by representing the Baloch as part of the history of the larger region in which they had no option but to play the part of the people excluded from the investment dynamic of the citied agrarianate civilization, reduced to making the most of unimproved resources in marginalized territory. The Baloch had been adapting historically, not to their natural environment, but to their socio-economic and political marginalization from the investment centers of the region. In order to understand this long historical process of adaptation we need to explore not how a community chooses and exploits resources, its human ecology, but how geographical space becomes defined within a civilization, how the cultural sense of locality was acquired, and how it changed as the society became more complex.

2. Investment and Translocality
The concept of translocality13 usefully alerts us to the significance of changing orientations towards location, resulting from population growth, increasing social complexity and the expansion of arenas of social interaction that comes with globalization. Translocality grows from locality. Locality is location in socio-cultural context, and translocality is the changing relationship between social life and geographical space, the cultural significance of the way geographical perceptions change according to social interests.

Cities are important in the geography of every civilization. But since the cultural core of the Islamic world occupies almost the entire Old-World northern arid zone, from the western coast of North Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, the contrast between space containing cities and the agricultural hinterlands in which they have invested in irrigation engineering, on the one hand, and the space between them with no cities on the other, is greater than elsewhere and more directly and exclusively related to the development of social formations.

For this reason the various cultural traditions of this arid zone, which are all closely related by theircommon Islamic history of the past millennium and a half, are characterized by a sharp division between the areas dominated by cities and the areas between them. Although colonial administrations began to change this sense of locality a century or so ago and post-colonial nationstate administrations and economic development are changing it more decisively now, the old sense of locality still shows through, because it is rooted in the local identities of people like the Baloch. It has an important social dimension that has not been recognised, and is a significant factor underlying the way the Baloch think about themselves, how they are assessed in the cities around them, their place in the modern world, and their current opposition to the governments of Iran and Pakistan.

This assessment raises some larger questions. Firstly, why did agrarianate citied society develop when it did in the Middle East, before other parts of the world that were better watered? Secondly, when the Arabo-Islamic empire took off in the 7th century, why did it expand east-west through the arid zone, when all earlier empires, however large, had spread in different patterns? Thirdly, how did the Islamic world from the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) until the 20th century, from northwest Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, maintain its cultural unity as a civilization without political centralization over such a vast area before modern communications? And fourthly, how has the introduction of Western hegemony over the past century changed the way peoples like the Baloch inter-relate with the larger society, both within the Islamic world and beyond?

1. Why did agrarianate citied society develop in the Middle East before other parts of the world that were better watered?

A city begins as an agrarian settlement that has grown large enough to develop division of labor, investment activities and trade with other cities. Archaeological evidence suggests that cities began to appear in southern Mespotamia in the 6th millennium BCE. Sedentarization had begun in the Fertile Crescent as a result of the opportunities offered by climate change following the end of the last glacial period. Sedentism increased birth rates, and before long the growing settled populations had to intensify their relationship with the land by cultivating crops in order to feed themselves (cf. Boserup 1964). As their population continued to grow, they moved from the hillsides of the Fertile Crescent down to the rivers in the arid Mesopotamian plains, so that they could further increase production by irrigation of rich alluvial soils. Cities developed in the increased clustering of population on the rivers. From then on into the first millennium BCE these cities in Mesopotamia were the primary world centers of growth in population, agricultural production and trade. It was here that the level of social complexity first advanced, increasing the potential for collective learning and innovation. Gradually, similar urban centers of investment in irrigated agriculture and trade developed where soil and water was available throughout the arid zone. This type of population growth and the clustering that would raise levels of social complexity did not begin in the temperate or subtropical zones until later.

Although other factors have played a role since then, this original social dynamic (settlement, increasing fertility rates, urbanization, investment, trade, collective learning, innovation) set the historical pattern that took off before long on all the other major arid-zone rivers: the Nile, Oxus, Indus, the Yellow River—a process that lasted down to the colonial period (when a new process that had evolved in temperate Europe, where resources were much more evenly distributed) expanded and took over, and continues to condition the relations between urban and non-urban populations like the Baloch in the modern world. It took off in the arid zone rather than the better watered temperate or tropical zones to the north and south because the emergence of the fertile crescent offered the original opportunity, the resulting population growth generated the need for food production, and the necessary soil and water was along the nearby rivers of the arid zone. The resulting clustering of population along the rivers generated the social process of collective learning, investment in the labor necessary for irrigation engineering, other technological innovation and inter-city trade. The domestication of crops and animals began as a response not only to population growth but to clustering in settlements. From then on, down to the colonial period, the population in the arid zone was divided between the investment centers of the citied society and the people who either lost their place in them or could not find a place. They did not themselves have the resources that would enable them to cluster in large enough communities to develop the necessary investment, and therefore did not experience the same rate of social change and the benefits of rising social complexity as the cities.

The people who did not find a place in the urban growth, and in the agricultural development it financed, continued to live in small mainly mobile groups organized in terms of the relationships that evolve informally in the process of socialization and are culturally formalized according to rules of kinship and descent, i.e. tribal societies. They formed counter-societies in the spaces between the cities, some of which were large, such as the areas now occupied by the Baloch, Kurds, Pashtuns and others. As the carrying capacity of the urban economies fluctuated, some lost their place in the urban economy and joined the tribes, taking their animals (their mobile assets) with them, becoming pastoral nomads on the lookout for any opportunity, such as raiding caravans or cities. From then until the colonial period the history of the arid zone was the history of urban growth and decline (resulting from a variety of factors, including periodic drought and violent conflict) and the  response of the sparse tribal populations without investment in the wilderness between them, with whom they continually exchanged population. We know from ethnographic studies (e.g. Barth 1961, Cohen 1965) that interchange of population between cities and tribes was common.

2. When the Arabo-Islamic empire expanded in the 7th century, why did it expand east-west through the arid zone, when all earlier empires, however large, had spread in different patterns, especially into better-watered areas?

Although Hodgson recognized the special ‘citied’ quality of Islamic civilization and developed a rich analytical description of the distinctive social qualities of Islamic society in his monumental work, he did not attempt to explain why it expanded east-west, throughout this arid zone (which could not at the time support growth without investment in irrigation), creating a newly configured administrative entity, rather than (like earlier empires) spreading into and through its predecessors, especially Rome and Persia, which were contemporary rivals in religion as well as empire. In the 7th century once the Arab armies from the Arabian peninsula had broken the resistance of the Roman and Persian empires in Syria and Mesopotamia they pushed not north into the better watered regions of Anatolia or the Caucasus, not into India (until much later), or up the Nile into Ethiopia or Sudan, but east through desert, into Sindh and round the north of the Himalayas towards China, and
west along the arid north coast of Africa, uniting for the first time under a single administration a vast area over three thousand kilometers in length, but relatively narrow in latitude.

The answer may lie in the particular stage of urban development and trade that had been achieved by the 7th century. The east-west trade routes, between the Atlantic and China and Japan, which had already become arterial by the beginning of our era, had never before been linked throughout politically or administratively. But now the urban entrepots throughout this zone had grown to the point where they provided seductive stepping stones for the extension of an empire supported by trade interests. By connecting the arid-semiarid zone from the Atlantic to China, even at the slow pace of camel traffic (estimated to have averaged no more than 10-20 miles a day, cf.

Knauer 1998), Islam created a uniquely new situation—a geographically homogeneous political unit in which economic growth and political stability depended on the economic trade-off between investment in local irrigation engineering and the profits from long-distance trade, each of which depended on urban growth and the trade and competition between the cities.14

In the three millennia of empire building before Islam each empire had been built out from the local power base of an aspiring leader. The objective had been economic growth by capture (a major force in history until the middle of the 20th century, since which time the expansion of trade has become a better recipe for growth). Succession on the death of the leader tended to be uncertain, and few dynasties and not many empires lasted more than ibn Khaldun’s model of three generations. The expansion of Islam in the 7th century was the first (and perhaps the only) historical example of religiously inspired expansion. The longevity of the Islamic empire was not dependent on the success or failure of any particular succession. It also benefitted from the earlier heritage of longterm political stability under the Roman Empire in the West and the interconnectedness of (what
later came to be known as) the Silk Road to the east. Its future did not depend on any local political process, but on the sense of belonging to a vast community with common legal values, an ecumene.

For this reason it became the longest lasting empire in world history, with the result that the social arrangements it supported became culturally validated to the point where they are now seriously resistant to change. But its survival is now at risk, because of new political rivalries resulting from the change in the sense of locality resulting from a new relationship with the temperate zone starting in the 19th century (under colonialism). The problem has intensified under globalization. In the `asabiyabased communities without investment, in the interstices between the cities, the long-term social inequalities between populations of different densities, that had been confirmed over the centuries, began to take on a new significance.

3. How did the Islamic world from the Umayyad Caliphate until the 20th century, from northwest Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, maintain its cultural unity as a civilization over such a vast area before modern communications without political centralization?

This pattern of geographical expansion provided a relatively uniform land-use base for social relations throughout the core zone of the Islamic world, which was sustained by inter-city trade, and provided the sense of locality that underlay the culture of Islamic civilization, making the universality of the shari`a [Islamic law] more easily acceptable. It was a distinctively different sense of locality from that of the temperate and tropical zones to the north and south, which had very different social formations with different land-use histories and social formations, mostly understood in Christian or other cultural terms. All cultural traditions have peculiarities that start from historical accidents and become emblematic. But cultural process in general is embedded in social processes. The cultural unity of the Islamic world relative to the Christian or Buddhist worlds has generally been put down to the Islamic ideological emphasis on the ummah, the unitary, undifferentiated community of believers, and the hajj, the religious duty to participate in the centripetal ritual of annual pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime. But the uniform social matrix throughout the relatively homogeneous ecology of the arid zone would have been an important contributing factor15. There were no similar factors in the Western, Christian, or Buddhist civilizations.

Given this cultural basis of locality, it is likely that translocality also would work differently in the Islamic arid zone from elsewhere. Although the concept has broadened our understanding of globalization, little attention has so far been given to cultural variation in the processes it helps us to analyze. Locality has rarely drawn the attention of ethnographers or been analyzed by social or cultural anthropologists. This is a gap in the ethnographic literature16. Before the Industrial Revolution people measured time in terms of space and space in terms of time. In the last 200 years we have learned to measure them separately and come to disregard the relationship between them.

Not only the scientific discoveries of the 20th century, and the advancing technology of transportation, but the forces driving globalization, have changed the meaning of both. However, there are also other cultural factors from the past playing into the process of change. Students of the history and sociology of Islamic civilization have long been aware that locality works differently in the Islamic world compared to Western and other orientations. But there has been no comprehensive analysis. Besides the linguistic classification of land types in Arabic and Persian (which are the koines of Islamic civilization), toponyms in the arid zone, from northwest Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, generally have a different range of connotations from those of other parts of the world. For example, names like Hijaz and Tihama (the Red Sea coastal regions of Arabia and Yemen), or Khorasan (historically the great northeast frontier territory of the Iranian Plateau), or Iraq (in its mediaeval sense of both the Mesopotamian lowland and the uplands to the northeast, now in Iran) are large unbounded regions, defined in somewhat vague geographical terms, but closely associated with the names of the cities located within them.

These terms would not be used to refer specifically to the territory between the cities (although they contain much of that territory), which would be something like Pers. biyābān [the equivalent of wilderness, but etymologically land without water], or perhaps Pers. kavir, Ar. sabkha [salt desert], or Pers. lut [gravel desert]. This is the locality dimension of the agrarianate citied society of the Islamic world. All such geographical terms have social connotations and imply either the presence or absence of cities17.

Locality is an important aspect of the unevenness between social arenas as they merge under globalization. Each community at the time of merging is at a different stage of translocality as well as a different level of social complexity. These unevennesses underlie most violent conflicts and other political problems in the modern world, both within the Islamic world and between Muslim communities and their neighbors. But the problems vary because of the historical difference in the conception of locality. Under the accelerating rates of modern change, geographical relationships begin to look very different. The merging of different experiences of locality into the process of translocality is part of the general merging of cultural traditions that we are experiencing in the modern world. The imposition of nation-state borders, their initial consolidation, and now their incipient loss of validity in the face of intensifying flows, not just of people that disregard them, but of information, are simply the most tangible factors in this process. The development of new resources, such as oil and gas, and changing routes of transportation are others. Apart from the annual movement of large numbers of people from all corners of the Islamic world to Mecca and back once a year, which has increased significantly in recent decades, the patterns of movement between populations in different parts of the Islamic world resulting from unprecedented changes in the markets for labor and for services are a new development that introduces new forms of

While translocality changes the relationships, it takes longer for the identities to be reevaluated according to the new conditions. For example, the Baloch were never held in high regard in the cities. But they were relatively independent and they could be valuable as mercenaries, or they might be feared as raiders. They were free to threaten. More recently, although they have not benefited in terms of investment or any other advantage from their new formal relationship with the urban government of the nation-state into which they have now been included, they are still looked down on and have now lost their independence without gaining meaningful representation at the federal level. However, the relationship between the Baloch and the state is different in each of the countries we are considering. It was first defined in nation-state terms in Afghanistan under Abdu’l- Rahman between 1880 and 1901, next in Iran by Reza Shah following their defeat in 1928, and finally in Pakistan after the accession of Kalat in 1948. The relationship has gone through phases in each country and the heyday of the nation-state is now over: each government is having difficulty controlling its entire territory.

Not only in these three countries but throughout the northern arid zone, from present-day Morocco to China, the human response to geographical relationships has changed over time as the relative ability to invest in increased productivity has changed—which has occurred as a matter of course as population has increased, and society has become more complex and more closely interrelated with activities in the rest of the world. The historical experience generates relationships and cultural values that influence the way communities interact with each other for generations ahead.

Now that under globalization the arid zone is becoming more closely inter-related with the rest of the world, its past is throwing a shadow not only over the regional present but into the global future. The relationship between cities and tribes in the arid zone has outgrown its regional context and mutated into a problematic relationship that demands international attention. We will understand the Baloch situation better if we put it into a comparative context. Other similar tribal identities in the Islamic world include the Kurds, the Pashtuns and the Tuareg18. The Kurds in northern Iraq, eastern Turkey and the adjoining parts of Syria and Iran (c. 40 million), the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan (c. 45 million), and the Tuareg in southern Algeria and Libya, northeastern Mali and western Niger (perhaps a million) are historically comparable to the Baloch, because in each case they are mainly identified with a single large area that until not much more than a century ago was a refuge area, beyond the reach of any urban control, and which within the past hundred years or so has been divided by modern nation-state boundaries. Since these territories have no historical cities and have not been included historically in the agricultural hinterland of any significant cities, they have functioned as refuge areas for people who either lost their place in the citied economies or could not find a place in them. Nowhere in these refuge areas, which in each case were named by the surrounding populations, was the population able to cluster sufficiently to support the development of an investment center that could join the urban network. We have ethnographic and historical data that suggest continuous exchange of population between such refuge areas and the surrounding cities as the carrying capacity of the urban economies fluctuated. Families in the refuge areas which succeeded in building their social position emulated the urban elites, even though the populations of the refuge areas and the cities remained ideologically opposed to each other. Occasionally, a force from the refuge area succeeded in overtaking one of the cities and forming a new government. Most new dynasties in the history of the Islamic world provide examples of this historical interdependence of urban investment centers and refuge areas unable to generate investment, as ibn Khaldun explained (Rosenthal 1967). More recently, in every case where nation-state governments have been installed in the primary cities over the past century they have failed to change the investment ratio between the cities and the refuge areas, and in recent decades the populations of the refuge areas have reacted by becoming an increasing threat to the stability and integrity of the nation-states.

4. How has the introduction of Western hegemony over the past century changed the way peoples like the Baloch inter-relate with the larger society, both within the Islamic world and beyond?

The dialectical relationship that had developed through the period of agrarianate citied civilization between the investment dynamic of the cities in locations rich in soil and water and the investment-incapable population reserves (such as the Baloch) in the resource-poor wilderness, formed opposing cultural identities of city and tribe. The city did not control the tribe, but had to make deals with it to ensure the security of trade between the cities and discourage raiding. The tribe was always on the lookout for new resources, including the possibility of raiding and even taking over a city. At the same time the cities drew on the tribes to satisfy rising labor demands, and the tribe absorbed the rejects when the city’s labor market declined. The urban population developed identities based on location and land, while the tribes developed identities based on descent and kinship. These identities became historically opposed to each other, despite their continual inter-change of population.

The colonial period introduced a new way of thinking territorially into the arid zone. The European powers were interested not in agriculture but in raw materials and trade for their industrial economies. They therefore valued land differently and introduced a new sense of locality. The change affected not only relations between the Islamic and non-Islamic societies, but also relations between the urban and non-urban Islamic societies. Most modern boundaries were drawn by Western powers since 1870 and are Western cultural constructs, but despite some uncertainties in the middle of the last century (referred to above) there is no longer any expectation that they should be undrawn. When the European powers withdrew, Islamic civilization was divided into nationstates, and the states are now accepted on the international level, even if the national identities are in some cases uncertain at the local level. Every square kilometer, from Mauretania to the borders of China, came under the authority of a national government. Every resident became the citizen of a Muslim-majority state (although such social division of the umma conflicts with the essential Islamic concept of tawḥid and the shari`a), with constitutionally equal rights guaranteed by a national government. But this fundamental reorganization of society did not change the investment ratio between the cities and the tribes. Human societies have generally used the past to provide stability and legitimacy in the present. The cultural attitudes built into longstanding relationships have always been slow to change, except insofar as social interests change. In this case the cities gained formal responsibility for the territory and resources of the tribes, but had little interest in them. The tribes are minority populations in the nation-states. They have not found a way to ensure sufficient political voice for adequate representation in the cities. It is not surprising, therefore, that to begin with, in the middle of the last century, little changed. But as information flows increased, and the tribes became more aware of what they could claim, tribal populations gradually became a major force of opposition to the perceived controllers of the status quo in the cities. Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 most conflicts were state sponsored. Since that date most have been driven by community interests against the state or against perceived transnational forces. In the last two decades all these tribal populations have become actively rebellious against their state governments.

3. The Larger Historical Significance of the Baloch under Global Urbanization

We have summarized the available data on the Baloch and reinterpreted it in terms of the social history of the Islamic arid zone and the relationship between the arid zone and the larger regional context. Starting in the 19th century it becomes difficult to explain anything regionally without reference to what is happening in other parts of the world. The closer we come to the present the more necessary it becomes to expand the framework to a global context. But although globalization is a common paradigm for the discussion of anything in the modern world, there is little agreement on its definition, what drives it and how it works.

Globalization results from the intensification of interaction among larger and larger numbers of people—a process that has accompanied accelerating population growth. It is essentially a social process, rooted in the demographic factors that have been the primary engine of change in human history. While exogenous factors, such as climate change, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters have here and there caused significant human change, differential life cycles and changing fertility and mortality rates have always been the continuous drivers of change. However, while population growth has spread the species, gradually populating almost the entire land-surface of the world, and then increased the average density of population, growth alone does not determine distribution. Increasing density is at least as likely to cause conflict over resources as cooperation in
efforts to increase their productivity. But despite the significance of conflict in human history, cooperation has won out and in recent times generated the increasing global interconnectedness that we now understand as globalization. What is driving globalization is the human response to growth. The response is to cluster in larger and larger numbers to the extent that is ecologically viable, up to the limits of carrying capacity. Carrying capacity supported only very low densities until about ten thousand years ago when climate change increased it significantly. The result was not only increased growth but increased cooperation, increasing collective learning and ambient awareness.

The larger the number of people working together, the greater the innovative capability, the more intensive the human-land relationship becomes, generating technological innovation and increasing the carrying capacity (Boserup 1964, Spooner 1972). Increased clustering (up to the limits of carrying capacity) has been an evolutionary tendency, evident in most species, since the prokaryotic age. In the human case, as numbers increase, people come into contact more. Each individual not only interacts with more others but engages in more interactions per day and interacts more intensively, in a larger social arena.

Whereas most humans, as late as fifty years ago, still lived in communities in the scores, hundreds or at most thousands, and interacted mostly face-to-face in the dozens, even in big cities, now more and more of us are interacting remotely more than face-to-face, with larger numbers of others, through a variety of media that can potentially connect us with anyone of our seven billion odd cohumans irrespective of location. Mobility has also been increasing, bringing people from different social arenas into contact with each other, increasing the proportion of interaction occurring between individuals with different cultural experience. As our range of interaction extends, everyone becomes more aware of what others (who have different experience and think differently from themselves) are doing and thinking. Our minds experience more associations, which give us new ideas, leading to more innovation. As a result the general level of social awareness rises, irrespective of formal education or training. Whereas awareness had previously been a product of education and professional training, it now rises independently of education. More people participate in the formation of public opinion, and in public decision making. The process of collective learning accelerates and expands. Rates of innovation rise. Productivity also increases, further accelerating social change.

Cities, where before the age of remote communication clustering was most advanced and interaction most intense, have always been the engines of innovation and economic growth. When the cities of China and the Islamic world were larger than those of Europe (in the later mediaeval period), they were the world’s main centers of technological innovation. But at the end of the mediaeval period European society began to grow faster. Why? Possibly because of the unprecedented series of disruptions it experienced, starting with the Black Death, which decimated the upper classes, weakened social controls, and provided new opportunities, leading to the Reformation, followed by the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries and the first age of revolutions, starting with the English in 1649. Until that time, as political structures had expanded, authority had always worked from the top down. After the Reformation in Europe top-down authority began to give way to increasing degrees of bottom-up power. The democratic process developed very slowly, but gradually accelerated, first in Europe and America and more recently in most other parts of the world.

The rate of intensification of our interactive lives has been especially significant in global cities such as New York, London or Paris. Studies of the acceleration of daily life have already been published (Rosa 2013). Urban life has begun to extend beyond the city everywhere. City-based administrations now reach out into the countryside incorporating rural populations into urban life. Scarcely any part of the world is any longer independent of urban interests. This process has been steady in rural parts of the Western world. In large parts of Africa and Asia it has been revolutionary, tearing apart the intricate systems of interaction on which traditional societies were based. In general the reaction to this intensification has been positive. Humans have without hesitation taken advantage of opportunities for more frequent interaction among more people than was possible with smaller numbers, changing the quality of life, sometimes with chaotic results. This type of change, when it accelerates to the point where everyone is aware of it, generates conflicting responses. The underprivileged in the cities, especially the young, see new opportunities. The privileged, especially those with vested interests, want to hold on to the past. The most conservative, apart from the Islamic scholars (whose social roots are often in villages), are in the least complex parts of the society, in the smaller tribal and rural communities. Where the past can no longer be restored, they seek to re-establish an idealized version of the past as they remember it, as they would like it to be.

These changes are characteristic of the modern world, but occur at different rates in each community, in each arena of social interaction—until continuing growth merges each arena into those of its neighbors. As globalization has sped up over the past fifty years, the merging process has connected arenas at more and more incompatible stages in the general process of increasing social complexity. Each community is drawn into the process at a different stage of growth, and of social complexity. When communities merge they are at different stages of growing social complexity. All dimensions of globalization, whether political, economic, or linguistic, proceed unevenly in different arenas, because each arena of interaction is at a different stage of growth, a different level of social complexity. Tribal populations, like the Baloch, are at the lower end of the spectrum of unevenness, because, so long as they continue to be autonomously tribal, they cannot grow in social complexity and awareness. However, now they have begun to benefit from the increasing flows of information, raising their awareness of possibilities.

As the rate of change increased, the thresholds19 of change into rising levels of complexity have come faster. The emergence of cities in early agrarian societies introduced the period of world history in which it was no longer necessary for everyone to be a food producer. The next threshold was crossed with the Industrial Revolution, which began to reduce significantly the proportion of the world population occupied in food production. The next came when the nation-state framework was adopted as the criterion for membership in the United Nations in 1945, which spread the idea of national societies. As imperial administrations withdrew after the Second World War, converting their colonial territories into independent nation-states, they created the global framework for everyone to have equal citizenship status within the formally delineated boundaries of a state. The arrival of the service economy in the 1980s raised the level of social complexity another degree into a condition where social service became a major economic concern in addition to production. In the past decade we crossed yet another threshold as global urbanization passed the 50% mark. Urban life became culturally dominant in every state. People now communicate and move between cities, irrespective of state borders. As a result of the growth of remote communication, the growth of social intensity is no longer restricted by location, and increasing social mobility everywhere has further advanced translocality. The level of socio-political awareness has risen globally, in tribal societies as well as in cities.

But we are still in a phase of globalization in which each society, each arena of social interaction, is at a different stage of growth and of increasing social complexity. The differences sometimes fade as the arenas merge. Sometimes they create social boundaries that become cultural borders, and potential sites conflict, sometimes ideologically opposed. Until now we have simply seen tribal societies as different, and we have studied them separately. We noticed that neighboring cities and tribal communities developed ideologically opposed attitudes toward each other, that the social difference became a social boundary, and although individuals could cross the boundary (cf. Barth 1969) the communities were opposed to each other, and the opposition had hostile implications. But we failed to draw the conclusion that each was participating in the same long-term social dialectic (between resource-rich and resource-poor communities) that was a core process of human history. The reason we can see it differently and more productively now is that the acceleration in the global rate of change in recent decades, resulting from the approaching climax in world population growth, forces us to take change into account, and as we learn to do that we see the past in longer and longer term trajectories.

The case of the Baloch spans this whole trajectory of social development. They are a sample of people who, although they served as a reserve pool for the expanding citied society, were not included in it and continued to live at a simpler level of social complexity. The current phase of change is particularly difficult for them, because they are finally being enveloped by the expanding citied society and being forced to adapt to higher levels of social complexity very quickly. At the same time relationships that were formed before the last two thresholds were crossed, while no longer determinative, have not entirely faded away. They continue to influence current developments everywhere, in a manner that is similar to racism (which is a historical product of similar factors). The Baloch are at a disadvantage in the transition to the nation-state era, both because they are relatively few in number (less than 5% of the population of each country) and sparsely distributed over a large territory (43% of the total in the case of Pakistan), which unlike that of the Kurds or the Pashtuns has relatively little economic or strategic value.

We have upgraded the status of the Baloch in the modern world from that of ethnographic curiosity (as sought out by anthropologists in the mid-20th century), and the historical source of urban insecurity in Islamic civilization (as seen by ibn Khaldun), to that of necessary player in the longterm dialectic of the social history of the arid zone. The Baloch case helps us understand how the unevenness in the historical development of social complexity in world history has become a problem in the current stage of globalization.

This account of the Baloch also provides some historical illumination of larger political problems, especially with regard to Pakistan, but also Iran, and in a different way Afghanistan. It provides a model that can be tested in other parts of the arid zone, and at a more general level it helps to clarify the current problems in the larger relationship between the Islamic world and its neighbors. These problems began with the merging of the Western (temperate) and the Islamic (arid) arenas in the 19th century. The imposition of Western imperial conceptions of locality, British and Russian to begin with, followed by French, Italian and Spanish, was the first threshold of change. The second was the replacement of Western administrations with the administrations of nation-states in territories that had been defined by imperial powers. The third has come in the last two decades with the increased mobility and information flows of the current stage of globalization. Each of these thresholds introduced a fundamental change in the relationship between tribe and city, by breaking the historical reciprocity, and restricting the options of the tribes, while subordinating them to the cities and raising their awareness of their disadvantage. The tribes are now minorities in nationstates without the numerical power to even out their relationship with the cities. The cities still look down on the less complex society of the tribes, and are not constrained to extend their investment activity into tribal territory.

The country with the largest Baloch population, Pakistan, is an improvised country. It was assembled at Independence in 1947 from the historical cities of the Indus plain in Sindh and western Panjab and large tribal areas of Baloch and Pashtuns on the fringes of the Iranian Plateau, which before the arrival of the British had been more closely related to Qandahar than to Delhi. It was reorganized in 1954 in an attempt to manage the political imbalance of its West and East Wings, and revised after the secession of its East Wing (as Bangladesh) in 1971. Since then its main political problem has been between the urban populations of the Indus plain and the tribal populations of Baloch and Pashtuns, which though small in numbers are large in territorial significance, and threaten to tear it apart. The problem is similar in Iran, though less strategically significant because the proportions are smaller (both of population and of territory), and the sense of ethnic identity and nationalism is less well developed. However, Iran has other tribal populations around its borders, each of which has had a similar historical relationship with the cities and must now be integrated into the national economy. Afghanistan’s case is different. Where Balochistan would probably not have survived politically till the British came if it had not been for the prowess of Nasir Khan (reg. 1749- 1794), Afghanistan owed its survival to Ahmad Shah. Under his rule (1747-1772) the Afghan Empire was the most powerful political entity between India and the Mediterranean. But in the course of the 19th century both Afghanistan and Balochistan would have disappeared, like the typical Islamic citycentered polities before the colonial period (e.g. Ghazni, Herat, Nishapur, Bukhara, Samarqand), if their continued existence had not served British and Russian imperial interests. The British preserved them mainly because of their different cultural approach to territory. They converted the disintegrating Afghan Empire into the nation-state of Afghanistan. Since the majority of the population were tribal, and roughly half of them were Afghan (Pashtun), the whole population became Afghanized. In British India the Baloch came under indirect British rule as a Princely State, and gradually became known as Balochistan.

The particular geographical and demographic relationship between the Baloch and the rest of Pakistan makes them a special case (a) for the Baloch in general, (b) for tribal populations in the Islamic arid zone, and (c) for tribal populations under globalization in general. Our Western efforts to understand these relationships has been hindered by the way we have formulated our research questions, which has been partly due to the fact that our research has been divided up in the modern period into separate fields of specialization, isolated from each other by discipline and method, and often further divided between subfields. But the period of history in which we could manage growth by increasingly minute classification and division is over. The continued increase in growth that has made us conscious of globalization is breaking down all these divisions in our organization of knowledge. Not only do both anthropologists and historians now have to view their material in world-historical terms, but they have to work together. Because of the speed of change and the continual merging of social arenas social scientists must look at their material historically, and historians must view their material in a larger social context. Our understanding of the modern world so far has been deficient because it is not sufficiently interdisciplinary. The importance of translocality as an analytical concept is that it draws our attention to a particular type of globalizing change in the way we understand geographical relationships over time.

By offering an interpretation of the current Baloch situation based on the use of social factors to answer questions about their history and the changing evaluation of locality under globalization, we may have appeared to suggest that all current problems are in the hands of the governments of the countries involved. But it would be possible to take this argument further and suggest that all nation-state governments are now losing the authority that would allow them to solve such problems. The idea that nation-state governments embody the final authority for their populations may never have been entirely true, but it is now visibly losing its validity.

The research presented here was part of the competence network ‘Crossroads Asia,’ funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Germany. I would like to thank the funding institution, as well as Crossroads Asia for making this possible. I am also grateful to Just Boedeker, David Gilmartin, Beatrice Manz and Dietrich Reetz for comments that have enabled me to clarify the argument. All remaining inadequacies are of course my own.

2 See Boedeker 2012 for an anthropological discussion of the change.

3 ‘Baluch’ is a transliteration from Persian [fārsi]; ‘Baloch’ is the transliteration from Balochi and Urdu. Hence ‘Baluch’ was the standard English spelling through the 19th century into the 20th, but ‘Baloch’ has now become more common outside Iran.

4 The folkloristic publications of Dr. Sabir Badalkhan are an exception.

5 In Hodgson’s words: “Even the pastoralists, including the desert nomads, who depended on the agriculturists for much of their food and goods, were part of the same social complex. Accordingly, the type of social order which was introduced into the agricultural regions (and the areas dependent on them) with the rise of cities may be called agrarian-based or (to be more comprehensive) agrarianate citied society. (I say ‘citied’, not ‘urban’, because the society included the peasants, who were not urban though their life reflected the presence of cities.)”

6 The territory as a whole (in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, and even beyond) has been called Baluchistan only by modern nationalists, beginning some fifty years ago. The part within India was named by the British in the 1840s. The part in Iran was named as part of the new province of Sistan and Baluchistan only in 1928 (see below). The name is not used in Afghanistan and there is no single Afghan province with a majority Baloch population.

7 “Investment” is used in this paper in the sense of socially organized economic investment, designed to increase the productivity of resources, as distinct from the non-economic investment—in the knowledge of their environment—made by non-food-producing communities, enabling them make better use of resources.

8 In the 19th century the East African slave trade provided an additional source of agricultural labor, and “gulams” (slaves) of African origin continue to be a significant proportion of the population of Makran.

9 In view of the phonemic importance of long vs. short /a/ in Persian and Balochi, I have added makrons where appropriate, except in place names which occur without them in the literature (e.g. Tehran).

10 Brahui is a Dravidian language. Its existence in Baluchistan has been discussed by Elfenbein (1989) and Morgenstierne (1932).

11 The Alams of the Qā’enāt in eastern Iran (in exile since 1979) are descended from one of the generals of Nader Shah (reg. 1736-1747), whose rivalry with fellow general, Ahmad Abdali, who became Ahmad Shah Durrani, the first Shah of Afghanistan, was the major factor defining the modern border between Iran and Afghanistan.

12 It was collapsed into the ‘one unit’ of West Pakistan in 1954, and reconstituted as a separate province in 1971.

13 The term was coined (Appadurai 1995, 1996) to draw attention to the increasing significance of the way our sense of geography has been changing in the modern world.

14 It is interesting here to enlarge our comparative context even further and compare the expansion of Islam with the expansion of Christianity. Although Islamic civilization began with the Arab conquest in the second half of the 7th century, conquest did not bring immediate conversion to Islam (cf. Bulliet 1979). Conversion came gradually over the following four centuries. It was not politically or militarily enforced. It was a community process (very different from the Christian experience of conversion, which was individual by individual), and seems to have been related to the practicality of Islamic law in the expansion of trade between cities, since contract is a special concern of Islamic law. Later, starting towards the high mediaeval period, when Islam began to spread further, outside the arid zone, into the Indian subcontinent, on into Southeast Asia, and southwestwards into sub-Saharan Africa, it was once again following the trade, when trade began to spread in those directions. Islam spread between partners in trade, and flourished in trade centers. The spread of Christianity, on the other hand, both before and after the historical spread of Islam, followed very different social
processes, all of which had to do political power. It began with the Roman Empire, first in the army, then in the 4th century by the emperor’s policy. From then through the mediaeval period down to the beginning of colonialism under the Spanish and Portuguese, the Pope legitimized all political authority in the Christian world, and from then until the 20th century, as the Christian world expanded, all political expansion by Christian powers actively encouraged the spread of Christianity.

15 For example, the plant communities in the Hexi corridor of western China are almost identical to those of the western steppe over four thousand kilometers away in northeastern Iran.

16 Evans-Pritchard 1940:94-138 is an exception, but even here it is time rather than locality that is the focus of attention.

17 The only historian of Islamic civilization who has contributed significantly to our understanding of this dimension of Islamic cultural history is Annemarie Schimmel (2000). Although her interest focuses on the treatment of locality in poetry, she also draws attention to the importance of cities.

18 We will omit the Bedouin in the west, and the Turkmen in the east, since they are dispersed through a number of separate areas. We shall omit also the smaller groups, mainly in Afghanistan and Iran, such as the Aimaq, Bakhtiari, Boir Ahmad, Lur, Qashqai, and Shahsavan, since they have been more closely integrated into the national administrative systems of Afghanistan and Iran over the past century and politically neutralized.

19 A concept introduced by David Christian in his periodization of “Big History” (Christian 2004).

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This article has been Published:
Crossroads Asia
Working Paper Series, No. 14.
Center for Development Research/ZEFa
Department of Political and Cultural Change
University of Bonn

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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Professor Brian Spooner


The Baluch Presence in the Persian gulf

By J.E. Peterson
Contrary to popular perception, the Persian Gulf—including the Arab littoral—exhibits a variegated mélange of sectarian, ethnic, and communal groups. Some are of recent addition to the mix, while many others can boast of an ancient presence and contribution to society. The Baluch form one of the communities most integral to society in the Gulf, with representation in all six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a presence that, in at least some of these countries, dates back innumerable centuries. As long-time residents and as Sunnis, the Baluch tend not to stand out or to be noticed in any obvious way. Nevertheless, they maintain a clear identity shaped by linguistic and cultural factors that makes them distinct on closer inspection. Consequently, an examination of their role provides an important insight into one aspect of the multicultural mosaic of the Persian Gulf. This chapter furnishes as extensive a look at the Baluch of the Arab littoral as is possible given the extent of available information.

The term Baluch refers to a major ethnic group primarily located in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan (Balochistan) and across the border in neighboring Iran.1 The Pakistani province extends from the Makran Coast along the Gulf of Oman to the northern frontier of Pakistan with Afghanistan; there are consequently some Baluch across the border in Afghanistan as well. Baluchi tradition claims that the Baluch and the Kurds share a common ancestry originating in Aleppo. It is more certain that the Baluch lived along the Caspian Sea before migrating into present-day Iranian and Pakistani Baluchistan in the early centuries of Islam. A political identity was forged in the eighteenth century when the rulers of Kalat in northern Baluchistan created an independent state that lasted until the arrival of the British. The Baluch resisted incorporation into both Reza Shah’s Iran in 1928 and into Pakistan in 1947, and sometimes violent Baluchi opposition has persisted in both countries.2 It is estimated that between 70 percent and 80 percent of the Baluch live in Pakistan, with most of the remainder in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan and in Afghanistan.3 There are also Baluch in the Sind and Punjab provinces in Pakistan. Population figures are vague, with Baluchi nationalists claiming more than 16 million while the government of Pakistan put the total at 3.2 million in the late 1980s. One seasoned observer estimates a total of about 5 million with 4 million in Pakistan and 1 million in Iran; the same observer put the literacy rate at 6 percent to 9 percent.4 The 1996–7 census in Iran counted 1.7 million inhabitants of Sistan and Baluchistan province, although this includes many Persian speakers.5

The Baluch are mostly Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school (although some are Zikri, a sect that believes in a prophet superseding Muhammad) and speak their own language (subdivided into distinct dialects or, as is sometimes contended, languages). Their language is from the Iranian group of Indo-European languages. The Baluchi language was unwritten until the nineteenth century and is now written in Arabic script. The dialect that is most relevant vis-à-vis the Gulf is Southern Baluch. The Baluch are divided into a number of tribes, some of which are replicated, at least in name, in Oman and perhaps elsewhere. The picture is complicated by the existence of many Jadgal living among the Baluch in both Pakistan and Iran. Although close to the Baluch in many ways, their origins are a matter of dispute and they speak the distinctive language of Jadgali.

It can be conjectured that the migration of Baluch to the Arab countries of the Gulf was prompted by three motivations. The first, and perhaps the most primal, factor seems to have been the general tendency for ethnic or sectarian communities to spread into neighboring lands.

This has been particularly true up and down the Gulf with Arab groups settled on the Iranian coast and inland from it for many centuries, and with Persian groups, first as merchants and then as laborers, settling in Arab littoral towns from Kuwait to Dubai. Over the longer term this type of migration exhibits a pattern of movement from areas along the Iranian littoral to the nearest points on the Arab littoral.

Thus Behbeha-nis are predominant in Kuwait, Bushehris in Bahrain, and Bastakis in Dubai. Under this reasoning, it is not surprising that a sizeable proportion of the population of Oman’s Batinah Coast on the Gulf of Oman should be Baluch.

The second factor in the settlement of Baluch in the Gulf is related to the Baluchi martial reputation. Baluch mercenaries have served as soldiers and armed retainers in the service of more than one Gulf ruler, but especially the rulers of Oman, where their presence has been recorded with the Ya‘rubi imams in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.6

Recruitment directly from Baluchistan continued well into the twentieth century in Oman and Bahrain. A factor in this process unique to Oman was the sultanate’s ownership for more than a century and a half of the enclave of Gwadar on the coast of Baluchistan.

The third factor is part of a general migration of labor to the Persian Gulf during the oil era. While the Baluch have not been as numerous in this respect as other Pakistanis, not to mention Indians, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, and other Asian nationalities, Baluchi workers can be found in all the Gulf states. “Here the Baluch found work as unskilled laborers, policemen, or fishermen. Other Baluch joined the military. Still others labored in the oil fields and on the farms of the wealthy Gulf states.

Although the Baluch work extremely hard, they are much better off than they were in Baluchistan, one of the poorest areas of the world.”7



Oman is the one country in the Gulf where Baluch live in profusion and have done so for a long but indeterminate period of time. This is undoubtedly due to the proximity of Makran to the Batinah. Early European travelers to Oman in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mentioned the Baluch, and it can reasonably be assumed that Baluch have resided in the country for centuries before that. Omani Baluch form a large proportion of the population in all the towns of al-Batinah Coast (stretching from Muscat to the UAE border in the west), as well as in the Muscat capital region. As the Sultanate of Oman census does not break down the population by ethnicity or religion, there can be no accurate figure of the Baluch population but a reasonable estimate would reckon between 205,000 and 245,000, or around 10–13 percent of the total Omani population.8

There are smaller communities of Baluch elsewhere in Oman, notably in al-Dhahirah region (on the inland side of the Hajar Mountains opposite al-Batinah and close to Abu Dhabi). At some forgotten point in time, a group of Baluch settled in this area where they adopted the organization of an Arab tribe as well as the Arabic language. By their own explanation, the enclave was created when earlier rulers of Oman sent Baluch to the region as soldiers and guards for officials.9 Although they dressed as Arabs and spoke Arabic, they were regarded as being on poor terms with all the neighboring Arab tribes. Because they were threatened by the Ibadi imam in the early 1950s, they allied themselves with the Saudis.10 Local tradition in Manah, a town of the central, interior, Omani heartland, holds that Baluch have been among the earliest inhabitants.11

The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, ‘Oman, and Central Arabia, compiled by J.G. Lorimer for the Government of India at the beginning of the twentieth century and in some respects still the most exhaustive source of information today, noted that the Baluch in Muscat and Matrah constituted half or more of the population and served as soldiers, sailors, porters, servants, and petty traders.12 Both towns possess a Harat al-Balush, or Baluch Quarter, although most of Muscat’s population outside the walls seemed to be Baluch.13 The Baluch may still predominate in Muscat and Matrah today, in part because they tend to fall within lower income groups and because many other Muscat and Matrah families have abandoned the towns for newer residences in the suburbs.

While many Omani Baluch preserve tribal names, such as Ra‘isi or Sangur, there does not seem to be any interaction with tribes in Makran.

The second factor in Baluch immigration to the Arab side of the Gulf, that of mercenary or soldier, applies squarely to Oman. Ahmad bin Sa‘id Al Bu Sa‘idi, who had unified Oman to drive out the invading forces of Nadir Shah of Persia and subsequently served as imam, died in 1783 and was succeeded by his son Sa‘id. Sa‘id abdicated after a year in favor of his son Hamad, but other sons of Ahmad bin Sa‘id contested his leadership. When one of them, Sultan bin Ahmad, was forced to flee Oman, he was given refuge in the Makrani coastal fishing village of Gwadar by the khan of Kalat, who had assumed power in the Makran when Nadir Shah’s forces retreated. Sultan bin Ahmad continued to contest the leadership of Oman and he never surrendered his claim to Gwadar, apparently using the small port to launch attacks on the Omani coast. After his nephew Hamad’s death in 1792, Sultan succeeded in besting the other members of his family and took control of Muscat. He then sent a governor to administer Gwadar and build a fort there.14 A visit by the British political resident in the Persian Gulf and the consul-general in Muscat to Gwadar in 1952 revealed that the economic situation was satisfactory and that the opposition Baluch Reform Association— which had agitated for the return of Gwadar to Pakistan—had become defunct. A new school was planned—in addition to the existing school for Agha Khanis—and a dispensary received considerable use.

The sultan’s administrator was British, and Britain maintained an agent of Indian origin who apparently looked after the British subjects who were Hindus.15 The population of Gwadar was estimated to be around 20,000 in the early 1950s.16 Gwadar remained a dependency of Oman until 1958 when Sultan Sa‘id bin Taymur was pressured to sell it to Pakistan for £3 million. Omani sovereignty over Gwadar undoubtedly facilitated Baluchi movement to Oman in search of work and settlement.

This continued after the enclave’s return to Pakistan, as a 1962 report noted the interception of a number of boatloads of Baluch seeking to enter the sultanate illegally, possibly seeking to travel overland to the oilfields of Abu Dhabi.17 More importantly, however, Baluch have long served as soldiers throughout the Gulf and the western Indian Ocean, including Oman.

The use of Baluch as ‘askaris, armed retainers and guards, began long before Omani acquisition of Gwadar and dates at least to the early eighteenth century under the last Ya‘rubi imam. They were employed alongside Najdis, Yemenis, and black Africans, as well as men from Arab tribes allied to the ruler. Imam Ahmad bin Sa‘id Al Bu Sa‘idi was reported to have relied occasionally on Baluch mercenaries, in addition to a garrison of African slaves used for the defense of his capital at al- Rustaq and a mounted force of Arabs for mobile use around the country.

A bit later, it was said that Sayyid Sultan bin Ahmad employed about 300 armed slaves and 1,700 Sindi, Baluchi, and Arab mercenaries. The garrisons of the two forts commanding Muscat’s heights were described in the early twentieth century as being manned by some 200 Baluch and Arabs. Baluch ‘askaris also assisted Indian Army troops during their 1915 battle defending Muscat from Omani tribes.18

The first modern organized army unit in Oman was entirely Baluch in composition. The Muscat Levy Corps was formed when the British brought the redundant Sistan Levy Corps from Iran to Muscat in April 1921.19 Never more than several hundred in strength, the force, later named the Muscat Infantry, provided the nucleus of the subsequently created Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF). However, the 250 Sistani soldiers were badly affected by malaria and many were discharged in the initial year. They were replaced mostly by Makrani Baluch recruited from Gwadar. A few Omani Baluch and a handful of Arabs and Africans previously in the sultan’s service also joined, as did one member of the ruling family.20 The Muscat Infantry also served as a model and source of recruits for the Bahrain Levy Corps (which later transitioned into the Bahrain Police Force—more details below).21

By 1939, the barely effective force of about 150 men consisted of half Makrani Baluch from Gwadar and the other half Omani Baluch, with a few Arabs.22 Because of the preponderance of Baluch, the language of command was Urdu and remained so until the unit was absorbed into the SAF in 1958. Baluch soldiers figured heavily in the Jabal al-Akhdar War of the mid- to late 1950s. In 1964, the SAF consisted of 779 Arabs, 170 Omani Baluch, and 1,081 Gwadar Baluch.23 The heavy reliance on Makrani Baluch could be explained partly by the age-old reliance of rulers in the region on foreign mercenaries (who could be supposed to be more loyal and trustworthy) and a marked reluctance of local Arab tribesmen to join the British-officered armed forces—indeed, Sultan Sa‘id bin Taymur (r.1932–70) forbade recruitment in most areas of Oman. Nevertheless, the Baluch soldiers did not get along well with the local population.

At the same time, Sultan Sa‘id bin Taymur’s eagerness to create a unit in Dhufar entirely separate from the SAF led to the creation of Dhufar Force, composed entirely of Baluch at the beginning, although it later included jabbalis (mountain tribesmen) and palace slaves.24 The subsequent outbreak of full-scale insurgency in Dhufar required a rapid build-up of SAF capabilities and forced Oman to recruit even more heavily from Gwadar. Some of the Baluch received full training and status as members of the SAF, while others served as ‘askaris (irregulars) to hold small forts and picket posts.25 After 1970 the old Dhufar Force was incorporated into the SAF as a separate unit and transformed into an all-Baluch unit, while Arab recruiting was stepped up as the size of the SAF mushroomed. This led to some easily contained animosity between the Arabs and the Baluch. By the end of the war in the mid- 1970s, the Baluch in the SAF were largely grouped into three all-Baluch battalions.

After the fighting stopped, the heavily Makrani Baluch majority of SAF personnel was reversed in favor of Omanis and the recruitment of Makrani Baluch ceased in the 1980s. A number of the soldiers chose to settle in Oman rather than return home. Omani Baluch remain well represented in the SAF and the first Omani officers in the armed forces were Omani Baluch from Matrah. By 1968, there were thirty-one Omani officers in the SAF, all of them Baluch.26

Most Omanis of Baluchi background are Omani nationals by birth, although some of the soldiers recruited from Gwadar who chose to remain in Oman were naturalized. There is no official distinction between various ethnic communities in the sultanate. However, Omani Baluch are often regarded with some disdain by Omani Arabs, and their socio-economic status tends to be lower. Some Baluch are less proficient in Arabic, although the extension of universal education in Oman over the past few decades has had considerable effect in ameliorating this. Because of perceptions of discrimination, some younger Baluch exhibit signs of alienation and, interestingly, sometimes identify with “black power” expressions similar to African Americans and the Caribbean populations of the United Kingdom. This was evident in the numbers of young Baluch who some years ago frequented a CD shop in Muscat in search of a particular song by Bob Marley and the Wailers that seemed to encapsulate the self-perception of their identity.27

Discrimination against the Baluch, for the most part, appears to be relatively subtle and has no legal basis. Indeed, there have been several Baluchi ministers in government, such as Muhammad Zubayr (Baluchi father), Ahmad Suwaydan al-Balushi (the former minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones), and Ali Muhammad al-Musa (former minister of health). Some of the most prominent merchants are Baluchi, including Yahya Muhammad Nasib and Musa Abd al-Rahman Hasan. Baluchis have also risen in the ranks of security forces, including a former commander of the air force, Talib Miran Ra‘isi. In mid-2012, it was reported that Oman had appointed its first ambassador to Pakistan of Baluchi origin.28

Although most Omanis of Baluchi background trace their origins to what is now Pakistani Baluchistan and identify, even if weakly, with Makrani Baluch tribes, there is an element of Iranian Baluch in Oman as well. The dates of their arrival in Oman appear to be later, a result at least in part of the shah of Iran’s attempts to extend his authority to the Iranian Makran in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of these immigrants were used by the present sultan’s father as a sort of paramilitary force, in similar fashion to his use of the Bani Umar and al-Hawasinah Arab tribes.

These Iranian Baluch settled in both Kalbah in Sharjah and Shinas in Oman. For many years until the mid-1990s, Oman paid salaries to them but the practice was stopped when a new minister responsible for defense affairs took over.29 Notice should also be made of the existence in Oman of the closely related community of Zadjalis, the local variation of the name Jadgal employed in Pakistan and Iran. Some live in the UAE where they may also be known as Ziyalis.30



The Baluch community in Bahrain seems to be of far more recent arrival than the Baluch community in Oman. However, one young Baluch (who spoke Arabic and no Baluchi), interviewed in Bahrain in 1980, claimed to be head of a Baluchi tribe of “Hoots” with 28,000 members in Bahrain. These he claimed had come to Bahrain in 1782 with the Al Khalifah. He also claimed an aunt was married to Shaykh Isa bin Salman, the ruler of Bahrain.31 Traditionally, Baluch were among the fidawis (armed retainers) in the estates of the ruling Al Khalifah family up to 1920 and were regarded as part of the bani khudayr, the “green stock” who had no clear tribal origin, along with “Omanis, ‘stray’ Arabs who had lost tribal affiliation, and people of African origin.”32 In addition, Baluch were said to serve in the pearling industry as divers and pullers, along with south Persians and people of African origin, although this has been disputed.33
As in Oman, the second factor in Baluch immigration was prompted by the community’s reputation for martial service. As part of the nascent efforts to modernize the government in Bahrain, recruitment began in Muscat in February 1924 of 150 men, many of them Baluch, for service in Bahrain. Most of them were recruited from the Muscat Infantry, who were originally from the Sistan Levy Corps. In July 1924, 107 of these soldiers arrived in Bahrain as the nucleus of the new Bahrain Levy Corps (BLC). While nearly all of the force’s composition in 1925 was Baluch, they were broken down into forty-six British subjects, twenty-three Persian, thirty-nine Muscat (from Gwadar), plus one Yemeni.

The BLC was not a success, however, particularly after several noncommissioned Indian officers were shot by their men. In addition, an attempt was made to murder the head of the existing police force (apparently this was the municipal police of al-Manamah founded in 1920 and composed mainly of Persians) and the British political agent was wounded. As a consequence, the BLC was disbanded and 186 Baluch of the BLC and the old police were deported that same year. A new Bahrain Police Force recruited from the Punjab was hastily created that year to provide defense against al-Dawasir attackers from al-Dammam that the BLC was unable to do.34

The Punjabis proved to be unsuitable, and so the government began to bring in local recruits. However, many Bahrainis were unwilling to join because of the association of paramilitary activities with socially inferior minorities, so the force was comprised mainly of African stock with some Baluch, Yemenis, Omanis, Pakistanis, and Iraqis. It was not until after Bahrain’s independence in 1971 that Bahrainis, mainly Sunni Arabs from urban lower-income groups, came to predominate. In contrast, the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF), created in 1968, found its personnel among Sunni tribal groupings.35 In later years, the Bahrain Police came increasingly to rely upon non-Bahraini personnel, including Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Yemenis. Many of these, all Sunnis, were said to have been given Bahraini citizenship in a deliberate attempt, according to the Bahraini political opposition, to redress the sectarian imbalance.

Certainly, many of these have been Baluch. Recent reports have spoken of the government’s efforts to hire “hundreds” of retired Pakistani Baluch soldiers and police to join the Bahrain National Guard and the BDF.36

The Baluch community in Bahrain remains small. In Manamah, it is centered on a mosque on Palace Road, originally built by a wealthy merchant in the 1920s and later taken over by the Baluch. The Baluch Welfare Society was founded in 1973, although it was banned shortly afterwards due to fears that it would become involved in politics. It was followed by the Baluch Club, established later in 1973 as a cultural and sports club.37 As of 2013, one member of the Bahraini Council of Ministers carried the name of al-Balushi.


The Other GCC States

There is considerably less information available on the Baluch in the other Gulf states, although small communities exist in each of the GCC countries. The Joshua Project lists a population of 14,000 Baluch in Saudi Arabia, 37,000 in Qatar, and 565,000 in the UAE, but these numbers are unverifiable.38

It cannot be determined how old the Baluch community in the UAE is, but it is logical to assume that it predates the oil era that spurred the massive immigration of expatriates. At least two distinct older communities of Baluch can be discerned. One resides in al-‘Ayn, the inland second city of Abu Dhabi, and presumably is related to the al-Balush tribe of Oman’s al-Dhahirah region.39 The other community in Kalbah, on Sharjah’s Gulf of Oman coast, is comprised of Iranian Baluch who left Iran to escape claimed oppression by Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was apparently seeking to “modernize” the Baluch by abolishing old customs such as the veiling of women. Some of this group settled in Shinas in Oman and both settlements served the Sultanate of Oman as paramilitary groups, as explained earlier. Presumably in this connection, British intelligence reported in the late 1960s that a cell of the Free Baluch Movement, allegedly supported by Iraq in order to embarrass the Iranians, was in operation in Dubai, as well as Abu Dhabi and Muscat.40 Other communities of more recently arrived Baluch presumably came as menial and semi-skilled laborers during the oil boom years.

One effect of the emergence of Dubai as a transnational, cosmopolitan metropolis has been its attraction as a place of exile or second home for politicians from various parts of the Middle East and Asia. For example, Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto spent most of her time in Dubai during her years in exile and her children were also educated there. Pakistani politics in Baluchistan has produced another connection. One observer contends that “The State [of Baluchistan] is being increasingly administered not from Quetta, but from Karachi or Dubai. The members of the Baloch State Government are being increasingly seen by the people as quislings of Islamabad and are afraid of staying in Quetta.

They spend more time in Karachi or Dubai than in Quetta. Government files go to them for orders there.”41

The size of the Baluch community in Kuwait is unknown. There is a feeling that Baluch have been there for a long time, as they have in Oman, but there is no available evidence one way or the other. Because they are Sunni, they assimilate rather easily—contrary to the Shi‘i for example. Many are indistinguishable from other Kuwaitis, even in name (except for those few who call themselves al-Balushi). Interestingly, however, there has been a small revival of social or ethnic diwaniyahs (a casual social or political gathering of family, friends, or constituents), among them al-Awadi and Baluch. Yet these diwaniyahs have been established more for political than ethnic reasons. The meetings allow them to host candidates for parliament and to promise votes. In return, a successful candidate does not hesitate to listen to their grievances. The utility of this approach does not depend on the concentration of Baluch in specific constituencies but rather represents a countrywide voice.42



This chapter has introduced and analyzed the limited amount of detail available about the presence and roles of the Baluch residents of the Arab side of the Gulf. Certainly the biggest contribution to Gulf society has been in Oman where the Baluch are not only numerous but exceedingly long settled.

It is widely held that Baluch have been well represented in the creation of modern armies and police forces in various states of the Arabian littoral, not just Oman and Bahrain, although details are unavailable. In addition, Baluch from Pakistani Baluchistan and presumably the Baluch areas of Iran as well have been attracted to jobs in the Gulf over the last several decades. Again, detailed information is lacking, although it can be surmised that in general the poverty and low levels of education in Baluchistan means that most of these Baluch are employed as unskilled or semi-skilled workers. Similar to other expatriate communities, these workers play no role in local politics and, because of their extreme vulnerability to arrest and deportation, tend to eschew political activities related to their homelands. Still, this has not prevented all political activities. Baluch opposition groups in Pakistan opposed the emigration of better-educated Baluch to service in Oman in the 1970s and 1980s and prominent figures called for an end to it.43

The Baluch residents on the Arab side of the Gulf, and particularly those who hold citizenship in the GCC states, are among the least noticeable and least contentious minorities. Those of long residence have fit well into local society and have contributed significantly to their countries’ military forces, civilian governments, and large and small businesses. Their presence adds to the richness of Gulf society and politics without creating significant challenges.





1 These introductory paragraphs draw from Selig S. Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations, New York: Carnegie Endowmentfor International Peace, 1981; Selig S. Harrison, “Ethnic Conflict in Pakistan:

The Baluch, the Pashtuns, and Sindhis,” in Joseph V. Montville (ed.), Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1990,pp. 301–25; Selig S. Harrison, “Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan: The BaluchCase,” in John Hutchinson and Anthony D. Smith (eds), Ethnicity, Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1996, pp. 294–301; Peter R. Blood, Pakistan: A Country Study, 6th edn, Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Federal Research Division,1995; Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn, and Paul Titus (eds), The Baloch and Others:

Linguistic, Historical and Socio-Political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan, Wiesbaden: Reichart Verlag, 2008; Muhammad Sardar Khan Baluch, History ofBaluch Race and Baluchistan, Quetta, privately printed, ca. 1958; M. Paul Lewis (ed.), Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 16th edn, Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2009,

2 There have been periodic attempts by some Baluch, particularly those living in Arab countries, to claim that the Baluch actually are of Arab descent. Therefore, they should be treated as other Arabs and some would even argue that the Arab world should support the movement for the independence of Baluchistan. This contention seems to be rejected by most Baluchis, however. (Harrison, In Afghanistan’sShadow, pp. 120–6; interviews in Oman, various years.) Valeri also mentions this point in this book, p. 198.

3 The Pakistani province of Baluchistan was created in 1970 by merging Kalat and Quetta districts. Robert G. Wirsing, “South Asia: The Baluch Frontier Tribes of Pakistan,” in Robert G. Wirsing (ed.), Protection of Ethnic Minorities: Comparative Perspectives, New York: Pergamon Press, 1982, p. 281. There also exists a pocket of Baluch in Soviet Turkmenistan. Ibid.
6 S.B. Miles, The Countries and Tribes of the Persian Gulf, London: Harrison and Sons, 1919, 2nd edn, reprinted in one vol., London: Frank Cass, 1966, pp. 201– 64; Willem Floor, The Persian Gulf: A Political and Economic History of Five PortCities, 1500–1730, Washington, DC: Mage, 2006, pp. 347–51. 7 Beatrice Nicolini, “The Baluch Role in the Persian Gulf during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the MiddleEast, 27, 2 (2007), p. 385.

4 Harrison, “Ethnic Conflict in Pakistan,” p. 304. Lewis, Ethnologue, gives a total Baluch population of 3,405,000 with 2,770,000 in Pakistan and 405,000 in Iran.

5 Abdolhossein Yadegari, “Pluralism and Change in Iranian Balochistan,” in Jahani et al., Baloch and Others, p.
8 J.E. Peterson, “Oman’s Diverse Society: Northern Oman,” Middle East Journal, 58, 1 (Winter 2004), p. 36; Sultanate of Oman, Supreme Council for Planning, National Center for Statistics and Information, Statistical Yearbook 2011, Muscat, 2011, These very rough estimates were calculated on the basis that one-third of the Omani population of al-Batinah is Baluch. The 2010 Omani census enumerates 773,000 residents of al-Batinah, of whom about 80 percent were Omani, with 1,957,000 Omanis in total. It is possible that the Baluch form a lesser proportion of al-Batinah’s population but, on the other hand, the numerous Baluch of the capital region were not included in this estimate. The Joshua Project, an online website proclaiming to be “a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ,” puts the total of Baluch in Oman at 434,000, However, there is no indication of date, sources of information, or methodology. Earlier estimates of the Baluch population of Oman were much lower. A compendium of information on Omani tribes and groups in the early 1950s put the total at between 15,000 and 16,000. Of these, it was estimated that 5,000–6,000 were settled in Muscat and the remainder along the Batinah. Only about 500 were in al-Dhahirah and the numbers that J.G. Lorimer had found in the Ja‘lan of the east and the Western and Eastern Hajar Mountains were considered insignificant. United Kingdom, National Archives, Kew Gardens, Foreign Office (later Foreign and Commonwealth Office), FO/1016/3 (1949–51), “Notes on Certain of the Tribes of the  Sultanate of Muscat and Oman.”

9 Interviews in Oman, various years.
10 FO/1016/3 (1949–51), “Notes on Certain of the Tribes of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman”; FO/371/156820, BC1821/1, “Tribes of Oman”; compendium updated and maintained by GSO 2 Int., HQ LFPG, Bahrain (n.d. but 1961).

11 Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, “Manh: the Architecture, Archaeology and Social History of a Deserted Omani Settlement,” PhD thesis, University of Liverpool, School of Architecture and Building Engineering, n.d., Chapter 3 (unpaginated).

12 J.G. Lorimer, comp., Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, ‘Oman, and Central Arabia, Calcutta: Superintendent, Government Printing, vol. I (1915); vol. II (1908); reprinted by various publishers in 1970, 1989, and 1998. Here see vol. II, pp. 1185 and 1200.

13 J.E. Peterson, Historical Muscat: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer, Leiden: Brill, 2007; interview in Oman, 1989.
14 Lorimer,
Gazetteer, vol. I, pp. 418–22 and 601–3.

15 FO/371/98329, EA1018/3, W.R. Hay, Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, to Anthony Eden, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 19 May 1952.

16 FO/1016/3 (1949–51), “Notes on Certain of the Tribes of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman.”

17 FO/371/162842, BC1013/6, Muscat Monthly Diary, 1–31 May 1962.
18 J.E. Peterson,
Oman’s Insurgencies: The Sultanate’s Struggle for Supremacy, London:

Saqi, 2007, pp. 38, 40, and 43.

19 For an account of the force’s activities in 1916, see the London Gazette, Supplement, Issue 30360 (31 Oct. 1917), p. 112170. The Sistan Force was formed by order of the Indian Army at the onset of World War I as the East Persia Cordon to protect British interests in Persia from German activities and it was last utilized in 1920. “Seistan Force,” Wikipedia

20 Peterson, Oman’s Insurgencies, p. 48.

21 J.E. Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, London: Croom Helm, 1978, p. 92.

22 Peterson, Oman’s Insurgencies, p. 49.

23 Ibid., p. 150. Recruitment for the Sultan’s Armed Forces over the years was regulated to prevent reliance on any one region or social stratum of Baluchistan. “The greater number of recruits are from the Kech area, but many come from the coast, especially from Gwadar, and from Panjgur. Soldiers of other areas are sometimes recruited; a few Iranian Baluch are found, some from Karachi and some Brahuis from the east of the province. Even the odd Pathan manages to be recruited. The majority of recruits are from the middle-ranking social strata, but some are from more wealthy and influential hakim families and a good many from the lower hizmatkar classes of fishermen, artisans and ex-slaves.” N.A. Collett, “Baluch Service in the Forces of Oman: A Reflection of Makrani Society and an Impetus for Change,” Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies, 2 (1985), p. 9.

24 Peterson, Oman’s Insurgencies, pp. 187–8.

25 A position to which only a small detachment of men is posted.
26 FCO/8/589, D.C. Carden, Consul-General, Muscat, to Sir Stewart Crawford, Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 27 June 1968, “Report for 2nd Quarterof 1968.”

27 Personal observation in Oman, 1990s. See also the brief discussion of the Baluchi role in Omani society in Marc Valeri, Oman: Politics and Society in the QaboosState, London: Hurst, 2009, pp. 232–4.

28The News (Karachi), 23 Aug. 2012.
29 Interviews in Oman, 1990 and 2012.

30 Peterson, “Oman’s Diverse Society: Northern Oman,” p. 37; Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz, “A Sociolinguistic Survey Amongst the Jadgal in Iranian Balochistan,” in Jahani et al., Baloch and Others, p. 25.

31 Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, pp. 121–2. The Baluch speaker also claimed that there were 350,000 Baluch living in the Arab Gulf states. Ibid.

32 Fuad I. Khuri, Tribe and State in Bahrain: The Transformation of Social and Political Authority in an Arab State, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980,pp. 47 and 51.

33 Ibid., pp. 59–66; interview in Bahrain, 2012.
34 United Kingdom, British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections, Government of India, Political (External) Files & Collections, L/P&S/12/3719, “Administration Report of the Persian Gulf for the Year 1926”; Political Residency in the Persian Gulf Records, R/15/1/437, “Bahrain Levy Corps,” various correspondence.

35 Khuri, Tribe and State in Bahrain, pp. 114–15.
36 Bruce Riedel in the
National Interest, 2 Aug. 2011.

37; interview with Ali Akbar Bushehri in Bahrain, 2012. Bushehri believes that the Baluch in Bahrain are of recent arrival and the earliest document he has found referring to them dates only from 1930. He also contends that they were not known to be involved in pearling. Furthermore, the British agency and the government of Bahrain in the early twentieth century relied upon Minawis (Persians from Minab, near Bandar Abbas) for security duties and not Baluch. Lorimer’s Gazetteer (vol. II, p. 258) makes note of “an appreciable part of the population” from Minab district. Nelida Fuccaro, Histories of Cityand State in the Gulf: Manama Since 1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 93, asserts that Baluch, along with fellow “dispossessed” Persians and former slaves, provided casual labor for the harbor and pearling industries.

38 See comment on The Joshua Project in note 8.

39 Interview in the UAE, 2012.
40 FCO/8/1256, Abu Dhabi Intelligence Reports, Record of Abu Dhabi Local Intelligence

Committee Meeting of 12 Nov. 1969.

41 B. Raman, “Weakening Pakistani hold in Balochistan,” South Asian Analysis Group, paper no. 3958, 30 July 2010, http://www.southasiaanalysis. org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3958.html. Raman quotes the The News (Karachi) of 25 July 2010 as charging that “While half of the province [of Balochistan] is inundated because of floods, killing scores of people, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani is languishing in Dubai. His staff said he was in Dubai for many days and they could not confirm when he would return. In any case, he is known to be a part-time CM as he lives in Dubai or Islamabad nearly 15 days a month and is never available, intelligibly that is …”
42 Interview in Kuwait, 2012.

43 Collett, “Baluch Service in the Forces of Oman,” p. 9.


Comments Off on The Baluch Presence in the Persian gulf

Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Research Papers on Political Issues


Impersonal Constructions in Balochi

(Research Paper)

Prof. Dr.Carina Jahani
Uppsala University, Sweden
Serge Axenov, St. Petersburg, Russia

Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz
Uppsala University, Sweden
and University of Sistan and Baluchestan,
Zahedan, Iran

Maryam Nourzaei
University of ‘Olum va Ta
qiqāt, Fars, Iran


Impersonal constructions are interesting from a typological perspective. Siewierska (2008: 3–4) finds that “[t]he semantic characterizations of impersonality centre on two notions”, either “the lack of a human agent controlling the depicted situation or event” or “situations or events which may be brought about by a human agent but crucially one which is not specified.” The present article focuses on grammatical constructions for situations or events brought about by a non-specified agent in one Iranian language, namely Balochi. It draws upon four Balochi corpuses available to the authors, comprising four different dialects of Balochi and consisting of altogether approximately 130,000 words.

There are three constructions for a non-specific agent found in the corpus, those with the verb in 3PL, those with the verb in 2SG, and those with a passive verb. It seems that the 3PL construction allows the speaker to distance himself/herself from the event somehow in narrative texts, where the speaker and addressee are not included in the referential framework of this construction. The 2SG construction, on the contrary, allows an unrestricted impersonal interpretation in narrative texts. However, in procedural texts, the 2SG and 3PL constructions are used interchangeably to include the speaker, and probably also the addressee.

The 2SG construction in narrative texts and the 2SG and 3PL constructions in procedural texts are open to a truly impersonal interpretation. Thus, the 3PL construction does follow the referential properties described by Siewierska (2008: 14–17) in narrative texts but has wider referential properties in procedural texts. In Balochi, the referential properties of the passive construction seem, on the contrary, not to be as unrestricted as Siewierska (2008: 23) suggests.


1. Introduction

Impersonal constructions are interesting from a typological perspective.1 Onishi (2001: 45) notes that impersonal constructions need to be investigated for a large number of languages with different typological profiles and from different linguistic areas in order to draw far-reaching conclusions about these kinds of constructions and the typological constraints that apply to them. Siewierska (2008: 13–14) also pays attention to the lack of data for impersonal constructions in, e.g., grammatical descriptions of specific languages. The aim of the present article is to provide data concerning impersonal constructions for one such specific language, namely Balochi.2

Balochi is an Iranian language, thus belonging to the Indo-European language family, and is spoken in south-eastern Iran, south-western Pakistan, and southern Afghanistan, as well as in the UAE, Oman, and other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Turkmenistan, India, and East Africa. In her article “Ways of Impersonalizing”, Siewierska (2008: 3–4) discusses the concept ‘impersonal’ and finds that this term has been used in a wide and not entirely well defined sense. Some scholars “conceive of impersonality in semantic terms, others adopt a syntactic approach, and yet others a morphological perspective.”

She finds that “[t]he semantic characterizations of impersonality centre on two notions”, either “the lack of a human agent controlling the depicted situation or event” or “situations or events which may be brought about by a human agent but crucially one which is not specified.” In the second category she pays particular attention to third person plural impersonal constructions and verbal impersonals and to the referential properties of these different constructions. Among Siewierska’s conclusions are that the referential range of the 3PL construction is more restricted than for other constructions and that 3PL impersonal constructions denote third person referents among which the speaker and/or addressee are hardly ever included.3 She also concludes that verbal impersonals are generally of a less restricted character when it comes to referential properties, and normally include the speaker, and that the most open reference is found in agentless passives, which she finds referentially unrestricted (Siewierska 2008: 23).

Blevins (2006) takes a morphological approach and describes the characteristics of morphologically marked impersonal constructions found in, e.g., Balto-Finnic and Celtic languages, which “represent a distinctive grammatical strategy for ‘suppressing’ reference to the subject” (Blevins 2006: 236). There are no morphological impersonal constructions of this kind (see also Blevins 2003: 486–489) in Balochi. Kitagawa and Lehrer (1990), on the other hand, ground their study in different uses of pronouns and define the concept of impersonality in semantic terms in connection with these pronouns. They discuss the distinction between referential, impersonal and vague uses of pronouns, where “[r]eferential uses identify specific individuals” , “[a]n ‘impersonal’ use of a pronoun applies to anyone and/or everyone”, and “[a] ‘vague’ use applies to specific individuals, but they are not identified, or identifiable, by the speaker” (Kitagawa and Lehrer 1990: 742).4 The distinction between ‘impersonal’ and ‘vague’ uses will here be applied to whole constructions rather than only to pronouns, particularly since Balochi is a pro-drop language.

The present article takes a semantic approach and focuses on the second category specified by Siewierska, namely situations or events brought about by a non specified (impersonal or vague) human agent. This should, however, not be taken as the position of the present researchers on what should be regarded as impersonal constructions.

Another interesting type of impersonal construction comprises those with a non-canonical subject, that is, a subject in the genitive or dative case (see Onishi 2001), which are frequent in Balochi and which will be the subject of a forthcoming study.
This investigation draws upon four Balochi corpuses available to the authors, namely Serge Axenov’s corpus of tales, reality-based stories, and procedural texts (dealing with, e.g., weaving, cooking, farming, etc.) from Turkmenistan (abbreviated BT), Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz’s corpus of tales and reality-based stories from Sistan (abbreviated BS), Maryam Nourzaei’s corpus of tales, a reality-based story, and a procedural text in Koroshi, a dialect of Balochi spoken in Fars (abbreviated BK), and Carina Jahani’s corpus of modern short stories from Pakistan (abbreviated BP). These four corpuses comprise approximately 130,000 words.5 The texts that contain the greatest number of impersonal constructions with a non-specified human agent are procedural texts, but the written texts (BP) also have a considerable number of such constructions. The tales contain, on the whole, fewer impersonal constructions. The examples are transcribed in a phonemic representation modelled on the system used by Jahani and Korn (2009).6 All examples are marked for dialect.

Different constructions for a non-specified human agent found in the corpus will be classified and discussed below. Special attention will be given to the referential properties of the agent in each construction. There could be a vague delimitation of possible agents in the context, but there could also be a totally impersonal reference to any possible agent, including the speaker and the addressee in these constructions (generic reference, see Siewierska 2008: 9–10). This difference will be discussed for each example below.

The purpose of the present article is thus two-fold: to analyse the nature of the constructions used for non-specified human agents in the corpus of Balochi under study, and to discuss whether Siewierska’s (2008) conclusions about referential properties for the agent in different types of constructions hold for this corpus.


2. Constructions with a non-specified human agent found in the corpus

In this corpus, two main types of constructions where the human agent is not specified are found, one type with an active verb and one type with a passive verb. There are three different constructions with an active verb, 3PL, 2SG, and 3SG constructions.


2.1 Constructions with an active verb, narrative texts

Constructions with an active verb are particularly common in procedural texts, but they are also found in reality-based stories and, although much less commonly, in tales. Since it seems that the constructions operate somewhat differently in narratives and procedural texts, the analysis of the procedural texts is separate from that of the narrative texts (see section 2.3). In narrative texts the verb is found either in 3PL, 2SG, or 3SG. In the ergative construction (ex. 3) the agent is expressed by a pronominal clitic. Only a limited number of examples have been included, but these examples are chosen to be representative of all the occurrences of the particular construction.


2.1.1 Verb in the third person plural

Ex. 1

Ā_____ drōgburr_____ uškit_____ ki _____bi_____ plān _____šār-ā

DEM   liar _____hear.PT.3SG_____ CLM ____in____so.and.so_____town-OBL

drōgburr=ē_______ ast_____ wa____ āī____ tārīp-ān-ā_____ bāz=a



That liar heard that in such and such a town there was a liar who was widely praised (lit. and they praise him a lot). (BT)

The speaker here is the person in the story telling the addressee (the first liar) about a second liar. The presence of a speaker is, in fact, very weak, since the verb uškit ‘he heard’ is used to refer to what was said. The addressee is definitely excluded from the referential properties of the verb kanant ‘they do’. He was not even aware of the second liar until he heard about him from the speaker. It is not totally clear whether the speaker also would praise this second liar or not, i.e. if the speaker is part of the referential framework of the verb kanant ‘they do’ or not.

Possible agents are to be found in the context of the story, which means that this is a vague rather than an impersonal or, to use Siewierska’s terminology, generic construction.

Ex. 2

Šallāx_____ ēšī____ čarm-īēn_____ dāšt

Whip___ DEM.OBL ____leather-ADJZ-ATTR _____have.PT.3SG

ġadīm-ā____ zābul____ ta____ bā____ kurt-ant____ čarm-īēn


A whip, he had a leather whip; in the past in Zabol, you know, they were sold, (whips) made of leather. (BS)

This sentence is found in a reality-based story. Possible agents are tradesmen in Zabol in former times, which makes the agent of kurtant ‘they did’ vague rather than impersonal. In this example, the speaker and the addressee must be seen as excluded from the referential framework of the verb, since the speaker is a storyteller from the region, and the addressee is a linguistic researcher.

Ex. 3

marō_____ zahr=eš_____ rētk-a=Ø _____mā ______xorāk=at

today____ poison=PC.3PL____ pour.PT-PP=COP.PR.3SG____ in_____ food=PC.2SG

Today there is poison poured into your food. (BK)

The context of this sentence from a folktale is that the stepmother wants to kill her stepson, but his horse has supernatural powers and is able to warn him. The speaker is the horse and the addressee is the boy. Possible agents in this ergative construction with an agent clitic instead of the verb in 3PL are the people present in the story who want to kill the addressee. Thus, both the speaker and the addressee are excluded from the referential framework, since neither of them would have put poison in the food. These restrictions of the agent makes the sentence vague rather than impersonal.

Ex. 4

Xān___ mnī___ pād-ān____ kawš-ān-ī____ tā____iškar

Khan___ PRON.1SG.GEN____ foot-PL ___shoe-PL-GEN__ in__ live.ember

rēt-ag=ant_____ ša ______dušmanāīā

pour.PT-PP=COP.PR.3PL_____ from____ enmity-OBL

Khan, my feet! Somebody has poured live embers in my shoes out of enmity. (BS)


This example comes from a reality-based story, and the incident with live embers being poured into the speaker’s shoes took place at a wedding. Possible agents are people present at the wedding party, thus a vague subject from which speaker is excluded. It is also clear in the context that he does not suspect that the addressee (the Khan) would be the agent.


Ex. 5

nimāzliq ___bi___ awā____ bāl kurt=u____ ēšānā_____ āwurt

prayer.rug___ in air___ wing __do.PT.3SG=and __DEM.PL.OBJ___ bring.PT.3SG
am=ōdā____ ki___ wazīr-ay___ jinikk-ā___ šōd-ant

EMPH=there ___CLM___ wizier-GEN___ girl-OBJ.VCL ___wash.PR-3PL

The prayer rug took off into the air and brought them to the place were the wizier’s daughter was being washed (lit. where they wash the wizier’s daughter). (BT)

This sentence is from a folktale. It is the narrator’s voice, which means that the speaker is excluded from the possible agents, as are the addressees, i.e. the audience, who are also outside the framework of the story. Possible agents of the verb šodant ‘they wash’ are people in the story who could be involved in washing the wizier’s daughter, which means that the agent is vague.

Ex. 6

xolāsa _____ar=r-ant ____ahmad-ī____ rannā

in.short_____ VCL=go.PR-3PL_____ NP-GEN ____after

To make a long story short, Ahmad is asked to come (lit. they go to get Ahmad). (BK) The sentence is from a narrative section in a folktale. This excludes the narrator and the audience, i.e. the speaker and the addressee, from the referential framework. Possible agents are the people at the court of the king who needs Ahmad’s services and therefore sends for him. The construction is thus vague rather than impersonal.


It is clear from ex. 1–6 that the 3PL construction is used with a vague rather than an impersonal (generic) human agent. The speaker and the addressee seem to be excluded from the referential properties of this construction in narrative discourse, which means that Siewierska’s conclusion for the 3PL holds in this type of text (see also below).


2.1.2 Verb in the second person singular

Ex. 7

bēšakkā ____ki ___pa___ xudā___ ta ____yakk=ē____ b-day-ay

undoubtedly _____CLM__ for God__ PRON.2SG__ one=IND___ SUB-give.PR-2SG

xudā____ da=a ___dant

God ten=VCL____ give.PR.3SG

Undoubtedly, if you give one (unit of something) for the sake of God, He will give you tenfold (back). (BS)

This is a generic statement meaning ‘Whoever gives something to God will get tenfold back’. The speaker, in this story the prophet Moses, definitely includes the addressee, a poor man who actually showed generosity and was rewarded, and there is no reason to believe that he would exclude himself either. Possible agents are not restricted to the framework of the story, which means that we are dealing with an impersonal construction.

Ex. 8

na-zān-ay _____čīā_____ āī ______ čamm______ ham=ē_____ kišk-ā

NEG-know.PR-2SG ____why___ DEM.GEN ____eye EMPH=DEM___ side-OBL



Nobody knows why his eyes were fixed in this direction. (BP)

This sentence is about a man who is expecting his son to come back home even long after the son has been killed. The agent of the verb nazānay ‘you don’t know’ could be anyone within the story, i.e. anybody who knew this man. But it could also be anyone hearing or reading this story. It therefore seems that an impersonal interpretation is possible here.

Thus, the speaker and the addressee can be included as possible agents in this example.

Ex. 9

Ē____ nimāzliq-ay____ sarā____ ki___ nind-ay ___ā___ bāl=a kan-t

DEM __prayer.rug-GEN __on ___CLM sit.down.PR-2SG___ DEM ___wing=VCL__ do.PR-3SG

When you sit down on this prayer-rug, it takes off. (BT)

The sentence is uttered by a man who wants to sell a magic rug, and the addressee is a person who wants to buy this rug. The intention is, of course, not that it will take off only if this buyer sits down on it, which means that the verb ninday ‘you sit down’ is not to be interpreted as referring only to the addressee. It is an impersonal construction with general preferentiality, including both the speaker and the addressee in the context where it is uttered.

Ex. 10

doros=en____ bās=en_____ ġarīb-pasand_____ be-bey

correct=COP.PR.3SG____ must=COP.PR.3SG____ stranger-accepting SUB-become.PR.2SG

Surely one must accept strangers. (BK)

This sentence is from a reality-based story and the intention of the person who said it is that everybody, including himself and the addressee, should accept strangers. It is open and generic in its referential properties, thus an impersonal construction.

Ex. 11

na-ma-bī-yā______ čūbān-ī______ kan-ey

NEG-IMP-become.PR-3SG_____ shepherd-NOMZ

It is impossible to be a shepherd. (BK)

This sentence is uttered by a shepherd boy, and the addressee is his father. The boy wants to quit being a shepherd and argues that it is an impossible job. It is therefore clear that the speaker in particular is included here. The statement is, however, made in such a general way that also the addressee (the father) and anyone else who would attempt to be a shepherd can be included. It can therefore be interpreted as an impersonal construction.


Ex. 7–11 show that the 2SG construction in narrative text has wider referential properties than the 3PL construction. In all the examples an impersonal interpretation is possible. It is interesting to note ex. 11, where the speaker refers to himself in particular with this construction. However, this example also allows for an impersonal interpretation.

2.1.3 Verb in the third person singular

Ex. 12

guš-īt ___ki ____yag____ bādišā=yē=at

say.PR-3SG ___CLM ___one king=IND=COP.PT.3SG

The story goes (lit. he/she says) that there was a king. (BS)

Ex. 13

ē____ š-ī____ ančēn____ sawt=ē___ēširā___ allā=i pāk

DEM ___say.PR-3SG___ such.ATTR___ voice=IND ___DEM.OBJ____ Allah=IZ pure



He, the story goes, the Holy God had given him such a (wonderful) voice… (BS)

Ex. 14

š-īt___ yak___ xān=ē=at

say.PR-3SG __one __Khan=IND=COP.PT.3SG

The story goes that there was a Khan. (BS)

The construction with the verb in 3SG occurs only in narrative texts in one part of the corpus, namely BS, and only for the verb ‘to say’ (in full or reduced form), but it is common in BS, both in fiction and reality-based stories.7 It is found in the introduction of a story, but also later on in the narration. It is quite clear from the way this verb is used that it is linked to epistemic modality and expresses that the narrator does not have first-hand information about what follows after the introductory verb of saying. Rather, he8 expresses some uncertainty about the contents of the narration, but not to the extent that the listener feels that he expresses outright doubt about it. Thus, this construction does not include the speaker or the addressee in its referential framework and is therefore not impersonal. It has a vague reference to people who may have been eyewitnesses to the very story about to be told or being told.


2.2 Grammatical passive construction, narrative texts

The grammatical passive construction in Balochi consists of an infinitive or a past participle with an auxiliary verb, either ‘to become’ (ex. 15–17, 19–20) or ‘to come’ (ex. 18).9 The passive is normally not used with an overt agent in Balochi (see e.g. Farrell 1995: 231, Baranzehi 2003: 100, Axenov 2006: 200) but there are two such examples in the whole corpus, which thus do not belong in the discussion of a non-specified agent.10

Ex. 15

dawlatxān-ārā___ kayz__ u___ band-ay___ sazā ___day-ag

NP-OBJ____ prison ___ and ___ prison-GEN ___ punishment ___give.PR-INF



Dawlatkhan should not be punished by imprisonment (lit. imprisonment should not be given to Dawlatkhan). (BP)

This is the verdict in a murder case. The person writing it issues an order to those involved in the process, particularly to the addressee (the receiver of the verdict), who would be the actual person to imprison Dawlatkhan. The agent here is, however, vague rather than impersonal, including the addressee as well as others who are part of the process, though not the writer himself, who stands above the process.

Ex. 16

agan māt=ē____ kuš-ag _____ma-būt-ēn______ du_____ čār

if mother=PC.3SG _____kill.PR-INF___ PROH-become.PT-SUB.3SG __ two__ four

rōčā___ rand___ zahg ___allamā___ wadī ___būt-ag=at
day-OBL after child surely born become.PT-PP=COP.PT.3SG

If the mother had not been killed, the child would definitely have been born a couple of days later. (BP)

A woman has been killed and the prosecutor is trying to find out more about the murder. The sentence above is spoken by the father of the killer (i.e. the agent), quoting the midwives about the birth of the child with whom the woman was pregnant.

Either the speaker did not know that his son (actually the father of the illegitimate child, who tried to conceal his adultery) killed this woman, or he did not want to disclose this information. He would hardly include himself as a possible agent though, and the addressee, the prosecutor, is definitely not one of the potential killers, which makes the agent vague rather than impersonal.

Ex. 17

ham=ē___ rōčā___ bēgāh-ay___ wahd-ā____ āsmān-ay___ dēmā

EMPH=DEM ___day-OBL___ evening-GEN___ time-OBL___ sky-GEN ___on

jāgah___ jāgah=ē ___jambar ___ham ___gind-ag___ ātk-ag=at

Place___ place=IND___ cloud__ also__ see.PR-INF __come.PT-PP=COP.PT.3SG

That same day, in the evening, one could see clouds in a few places in the sky. (BP) This sentence is in a narrative part of a modern short story. Here the agent includes everybody who is part of the framework, including the ‘omnipresent narrator’. The persons to whom the story is told (the addressees), i.e. the readers of this short story, are not a natural part of the framework, however.

Ex. 18

diga __āl___ bi___ man___ mālūm___ na-bū___ ki

other __state__ to__ PRON.1SG__ evident NEG-become.PT.3SG CLM

mnī ___mard___ kušt-a ___bū __yā__ na

PRON.1SG.GEN__ man __kill.PT-PP___ become.PT.3SG__ or__ no

It was actually not clear to me if my husband was killed or not. (BS)

This sentence is from a folktale and the speaker is the wife of the man who may have been killed. The addressees are her parents. The potential agents are to be found within the framework of the story, but exclude the speaker and the addressees.

The construction is therefore not an impersonal construction but a construction with a vague human agent.

Ex. 19

dēb-ay ___sarag ___ki___ sist-a____ būt ___dēb___ murt

demon-GEN ___head____ CLM ___remove.PT-PP___ become.PT.3SG__ demon __die.PT.3SG

When the head of the demon was removed, the demon died. (BT)

This sentence is found in a narrative section of a folktale. The potential agents of this construction are to be found within the framework of the story. The speaker and the addressee are excluded from the referential framework of this construction with a vague human agent.


In this corpus, the grammatical passive is the preferred strategy for a vague human agent in written texts (BP), where no instances of the otherwise common 3PL construction are attested. In the oral texts, the grammatical passive is rather rare, although not totally absent. It thus seems that the grammatical passive construction plays the same role in written literary style as the 3PL construction does in oral literary style to denote vague human agents excluding the speaker and the addressee in most instances (ex. 16, 18–19), but that it also can be used with wider referential properties to include the speaker (ex. 17) or the addressee (ex. 15). It is, however, not used in impersonal contexts in the same way as the 2SG construction is used.

Siewierska’s (2008: 22) conclusion that the most open reference is found in agent less passives, which she finds referentially unrestricted, is thus not readily applicable to this corpus.

2.3 Constructions with an active verb, procedural texts

In procedural texts, which in this corpus are available for BT and BK, the two constructions 3PL and 2SG are used interchangeably. They are therefore not separated into different sections here. Two slightly longer examples (ex. 20–21) from procedural texts are presented to illustrate the way these constructions are used in procedural texts. They are taken from a text about weaving and a text about traditional cures for various diseases.

Ex. 20

masalan __har___ raŋ=ē___ ke ___gēš ___bokān=et estefāda

for.example___ every __colour=IND__ CLM more__ want.PR=PC.2SG __use

kan-ey ____ā____ raŋ=at___ gēš=a __kan-ey___ hālā___ yā ___DEM colour=PC.2SG___ more=VCL do.PR-2SG__ now_ or

zard ___yā___ ġermez___ yā___ ke___ ez… har___ raŋ=ēābī

Yellow___ or ___red ___or___ CLM___ from… every___ colour=IND…

aksaran___ ġālī-bār-ey ____zamīn-ā____ ġermez=a ____kan-an___t hā

Mostly____ carpet-PL-GEN ground-OBJ red=VCL___ do.PR-3PL yes

ġermez=a___ kan-an

red=VCL ___do.PR-3PL

You know, any colour you want to use more, you dye more wool in that colour (lit. make that colour of yours more) now, either yellow or red or…any colour…light blue. You (lit. they) mostly make the ground of the carpet red. Yes, you (lit. they) make it red. (BK)

Here the narrator starts out by using constructions in the 2SG (bokān=et estefāda kaney, gēš=a kan-ey) and then switches to the 3PL construction (ġermez=a kan-ant, ġermez=a kan-an) in the very same passage. It is clear that she includes herself in the referential properties of these constructions, since she is a weaver and therefore sometimes herself performs the tasks she describes. She potentially also includes the addressee, the linguistic researcher, in case she would like to try the craft of weaving.

If the addressee was a weaving apprentice, she11 would definitely be included in the referential framework of the construction. It is thus possible to apply an impersonal interpretation both to the 3PL and the 2SG construction in this example.

Ex. 21

pa a__dardīā ___pas-ay___ pōst-ā ____gwarā=a kan-ant___ pas=ē

for___ bone.ache-OBL__ sheep-GEN __skin-OBJ__ on=VCL do.PR-3SG__ sheep=IND

ki____ kuš-ay___ pōst-ay-ā______ kašš-ay____ pōst-ā

CLM ___kill.PR-2SG ___skin-PC.3SG-OBJ.VCL___ pull.PR-2SG skin-OBJ.VCL

patāy-ant=u_____ garm=a ___sōč-ant ___šap-ā___ nājō_-ay

fold.PR-3PL=and____ warm=VCL___ burn.PR-3PL night-OBL____ sick-GEN

puččān-ā___ kašš-ant=u____ pōst-ā ___bi ___gwaray-ā

clothes-PL-OBJ.VCL___ pull.PR-3PL=and____skin-OBJ___ to___ on.PC.3SG-OBL.VCL



For pain in the bones, you (lit. they) put on a skin from a sheep. When you kill the sheep, you pull off its skin. You (lit. they) fold the skin and heat it up. At night you (lit. they) pull off the clothes of the sick person and you (lit. they) put the skin on him. (BT)

This example allows for a similar interpretation as ex. 20. The speaker, who himself knows about traditional medicine and therefore can be expected to cure people with pain in the bones, is included in the referential framework. He starts out with a 3PL construction (gwarā=a kanant), then uses two 2SG constructions (kušay, kaššay), and then again four 3PL constructions (patāyant, sōčant, kaššant, dayant). The addressee, although in this case a linguistic researcher, i.e. an outsider, could probably also be included in the referential framework of this construction in case he would need to treat somebody with pain in the bones. It is also likely that the very same construction would be used to instruct somebody from within the culture who would like to learn this skill (see also ex. 20).



An interesting observation is that the two constructions with 3PL and 2SG verbs seem to be interchangeable in procedural texts, making the referential framework of the 3PL construction able to also include the speaker and the addressee, thus allowing for an impersonal interpretation. The distinctive features of the 3PL construction versus the 2SG construction encountered in narrative texts are thus not present in procedural texts. This observation contradicts Siewierska’s conclusion that the 3PL construction does not readily include the speaker and the addressee within its referential framework.


3. Conclusions

The present corpus proved to be a rich source for the investigation of constructions with an impersonal or vague human agent in Balochi. There are three main constructions found in the corpus, those with the verb in 3PL, those with the verb in 2SG, and those with a passive verb.12

It seems that in Balochi the 3PL construction allows the speaker to distance himself/ herself from the event somehow, particularly in narrative texts, but that this interpretation cannot be applied to the 3PL construction in procedural texts. Thus, the 3PL construction does follow the referential properties described by Siewierska (2008: 14–17) in narrative texts but allows for wider reference in procedural texts.

The referential properties of the passive construction do not seem to be as unrestricted as Siewierska suggests. In most examples of the passive construction a vague interpretation lies closer at hand than an impersonal interpretation. There is one example (ex. 15) where the addressee is definitely included and one where the speaker can be seen as included (ex. 17), but in most examples both the speaker and the addressee are definitely excluded.

The 2SG construction in narrative texts allows for an impersonal interpretation. It is also used totally interchangeably with the 3PL construction to include the speaker, and probably also the addressee, in procedural texts, which makes an impersonal interpretation possible for both these constructions in this type of texts. Thus, the 2SG

construction in the examples from narrative texts (ex. 7–10) and the 2SG and 3PL constructions in the examples from procedural texts (ex. 20–21) are open to a truly impersonal (generic) interpretation.

These conclusions are similar to the conclusions drawn by Shokri (in the present volume) about the use of 3PL and 2SG impersonal constructions in Mazandarani, another Iranian language closely related to Balochi.

List of abbreviations and symbols

– :                     separates a morpheme

= :                    separates a clitic

Ø:                    zero morpheme

1:                     first person

2:                     second person

3 :                    third person

ADJZ:             adjectivizer

ATTR:            attributive

BK:                 Balochi, Koroshi (Maryam Nourzaei’s corpus)

BP:                  Balochi of Pakistan (Carina Jahani’s corpus)

BS:                  Balochi of Sistan (Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz’s corpus)

BT:                  Balochi of Turkmenistan (Serge Axenov’s corpus)

CLM:              clause linkage marker

COP:               copula

DEM:             demonstrative

EMPH:           emphatic particle

GEN:              genitive

IMP:               imperfective

INCL:             inclusive

IND:               indefinite

INF:                infinitive

IZ:                   izāfa
LOC:               locative

MIR:              mirative particle

NEG:               negative

NOMZ:           nominalizer

NP:                  proper noun

OBJ:               object

OBL:               oblique

PC:                  pronominal clitic

PL:                  plural

PP:                  past participle

PR:                  present

PROH:            prohibitive

PRON:            personal pronoun

PT:                  past

SG:                  singular

SUB:               subjunctive

VCL:               verb clitic

1 In 2009, a corpus-based linguistic project comprising several languages belonging to different language families was initiated at the Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University, the aim of which is to study, among other grammatical features, impersonal constructions.
2 Sincere thanks to Agnes Korn, Frankfurt am Main, for comments on an earlier version of this article and to Guiti Shokri for interesting discussions during the writing process.
3 Siewierska (2008) does not treat 2SG impersonal constructions (see below).
4 Siewierska (2008: 9) uses the term ‘impersonal’ the way Kitagawa and Lehrer employ the term ‘vague’ reference, and ‘generic’ for the concept Kitagawa and Lehrer call ‘impersonal’. The present article follows Kitagawa and Lehrer.
5 These four corpuses will henceforth be referred to as ‘the corpus’.
6 Nasalization is not taken into account here. Pronoun forms are analysed as one unit due to the great variation in these forms. The DEM.OBJ can, e.g., occur as ārā, āīrā, āīārā, āīā. The COP.PR.3SG is explicitly given as Ø in the present perfect, but not the Ø personal ending in the past tense 3SG.
7 The 3PL is occasionally found in BS the same context, but not nearly as frequently as the 3SG.
8 All these stories were told by male storytellers.
9 For the passive construction in Balochi, see also Jahani and Korn 2009: 662–663.
10 E.g. pādišā ki kušt-a būt ša ragjan-ay dastā king CLM kill.PT-PP COP.PT.3SG from bloodletter-GEN hand mušmā ā ragjan-ā bi dār-ā jan-an PRON.1PL.INCL DEM bloodletter-OBJ to wood-OBL.VCL hit.PR-1PL When the king has been killed by the bloodletter (lit. at the hand of the bloodletter), we will hang that bloodletter. (BT)
11 In this culture it is only the women who weave.
12 The construction with 3SG verb is limited to one specific verb and is also found only in BS. Another interesting impersonal construction has, in fact, been observed by the authors in spoken Balochi, but it is not attested in the corpus. This construction uses mardum ‘people’ with the verb in the singular for an impersonal human agent. The same subject with a plural verb would denote a vague human agent (mardum= a kant ‘one does, you do (impersonal)’ versus mardum=a kanant ‘people do (vague)’).

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Language and Linguistics. Oxford-Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 236–239.

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Published by Orientalia Suecana LIX (2010)

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