Deutero: How are people and organizations denoting and worrying about the phenomena you study?
The communities in which I am engaging seemed to be worried or in a state of precarity regarding their positionality within the country - of feeling targeted or racially marginalized as “not really” African or Tanzanian. There is a sense of nostalgia over previous periods where an oceanic outlook was more prevalent than one that centered a more mainland or continental expression of national heritage and culture. Similarly, on the other end, indigenous communities are concerned over Arabs who are perceived as having more money and access to better living in the country. The government is also invested in distancing Arab and Indian Ocean histories from expression of national identity and Africanness.
Meta: What discourses constitute and circulate around the phenomena you study? Where are there discursive risks and gaps?
There are discourses within the community of the superiority of Arab culture, of being a minority community, and of feeling marginalized. There are also increasing national discourses of populism and nativism that distance Tanzanians of Arab descent from African-ness. Discourses of Arab imperialism in East Africa. Discourses of unity through Islam for the majority Muslim city of Dar es Salaam and island of Zanzibar.
Macro: What laws and economies undergird and shape the power the phenomena you study?
Neoliberalism, post-socialism - tourist economy in Zanzibar; business networks from East Africa to the Gulf. Legal realm of being a citizen, legal categories of identity, having one passport. Semi-autonomous Zanzibar.
Meso: What organizations are implicated in the phenomena you study? What geopolitics are in play?
I am unaware of if there are any specific official community organizations, but unofficial community networks are at play; business organizations and networks. Geopolitical context of War on Terror, scrutiny on the Swahili coast and mobile communities, especially of Muslim backgrounds. Government actors in Tanzania and the Arabian peninsula. Civic United Front (CUF) in Zanzibar vying for increased self-rule and opposition to ruling party CCM.
Bio: What are the bodily effects of the phenomena you study?
Racialization of bodies; demarcations of differences based on phenotypic differences. Bodies are legally situated as citizens, as potential suspects in the context of War on Terror. Islamic concepts of the body and belonging, the ummah (Islamic community) understood as one “body” across ethnic and cultural difference.
Micro: What (labor, reproductive, communicative) practices constitute and are animated by the phenomena you study
Community practices of patrilineage; Arabness being passed on through the father - understood as a means of absorbing other ethnic groups into becoming Arab provided the father is Arab. This also works as a form of patriarchal cultural politics, whereby women are more policed on marrying outside the community. Practices of migration to the Gulf for work or business opportunities. Kinship, marriage, and conceptualizations of extended family.
Nano: What kinds of subjects are produced by and imbricated in the phenomena you study?
Citizens, foreigners, settlers, Arabs, Africans, Tanzanians, suspects.
Edxo: What modes of expertise and education are imbricated in the phenomena you study?
Colonial education, Islamic education, government education, private schooling. Scholars on East African and Indian Ocean history, scholars of nationalism, citizenship, and belonging.
Data: What data, infrastructure, analytic and visualization capabilities account for and animate the phenomena you study?
Data of markets opened in East Africa and Zanzibar for tourism. Census data on categorization of ethnic groups in the nation and relative population sizes. Laws, constitutional language of how nation is defined.
Techno: What technical conditions produce and delimit the phenomena you study?
Digital modes of communication and belonging. Facebook groups dedicated to nostalgia of Zanzibar sultanate or for political groups aspiring for a “coastal” identity over mainland governance. Urban space, transportation, management of ferry from Zanzibar to mainland.
Eco-atmo: What ecological and climatic conditions situate the phenomena you study?
Coastal ecology and climate; rainy and hot seasons.
Geo: What geological formations, contaminations, resources and scarcities ground the phenomena?
Scarcity of clean water at times. Seasonal flooding