The Making of a Modern Kingdom: Globalization and Change in Saudi Arabia by Ann T. Jordan
186 pages, $23.95 list
The Making of a Modern Kingdom
Globalization and Change in Saudi Arabia
This timely and relevant case study presents an unparalleled anthropological overview of Saudi Arabia, a nation-state of prime importance, while it builds a vital understanding of globalization—the connectedness of the world. In its beautifully written pages, Jordan describes how a country with no modern education system and no modern technology or infrastructure developed all of these and became a first-rate world player in economics, education, and medicine in just a few short decades.

After situating the work in current anthropological theory, Jordan presents a summary of the unique geography, history, and traditional cultures of the Arabian Peninsula. From there readers land in a world of traffic jams, skyscrapers, and marble shopping malls. They learn the steps of the modernization process, its effects on people’s lives, and the reasons for its success through examples from education, the oil industry, and a mini case study of a hospital. This fast-moving, eye-opening account casts a wide net. It includes multifaceted discussions of international politics and political organization, the position of women and the role of religion, the global importance of the oil industry, and the impact of the 9/11 tragedy on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In addition to introductory cultural anthropology and Middle East survey courses, The Making of a Modern Kingdom serves as an ideal casebook with modern applicability in political and economic anthropology courses.
“The author presents a straightforward, simplified narrative of the country’s transformation from a congeries of separate, warring chiefdoms to a highly centralized, authoritarian state ruled by one extended family whose legitimacy is based on its strict adherence to the Wahhabi doctrines, a puritanical version of Islam that is unique to Saudi Arabia. Weaving together personal experiences, academic literature, and her own in-country research, Jordan presents a fascinating case study. . . . Recommended.” — Choice

"Written in clear, accessible prose, this ethnography serves as an excellent case study for undergraduate courses on globalization and culture change." — Anton Daughters, Cornell College
Table of Contents
1. Introducing the Kingdom

2. The Anthropological Context
Modernization / Globalization / Complex Adaptive Systems / Orientalism / Rentier State Theory / The Politics of Research

3. The Geography and History of Saudi Arabia
The Creation of the Land / Modern Climate / The Early Arabians (Paleolithic–ce 600) / The Origin of Islam / Battling for Control of Arabia (1500–1900) / Abdul Aziz al Saud (Ibn Saud) and the Rise of the Third Saudi State / Conclusion

4. Traditional Culture of Saudi Arabia
Personal Experiences / Regional Diversity / The Bedu / Distinguishing the Bedu and the Hadar / The Hadar / Conclusion

5. The Process of Modernization and Continued Economic Development
The Rapid Rate of Change / Complex Adaptive Systems and the Oil Industry / The Continuing Focus on Economic Development / Conclusion

6. The Tertiary Care Hospital of Saudi Arabia: A Case Study of the Modernization Process at Work
The Creation of a Modern Medical System

7. Rapid Rate of Change
The Bedu / The Hadar / Saudi Youth: Identity and Change / Conclusion

8. Experiencing Life in the Modern Kingdom
Saudi Values and Behavioral Norms / Orientialism and the Western View of the Kingdom / Conclusion

9. Saudi Arabia in the Global Spotlight
Religion / Dissent / Women / Conclusion

10. Essential Concepts for Reflection
Goals of This Book / "Modern" Reconsidered / Issues and Strengths in the Twenty-First-Century Kingdom