The Forgotten Generation of Muscat: Reconstructing Omani National Identity After the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964
After the East-African Afro-Shirazi party overthrew the Omani Sultanate in the Zanzibar revolution of 1964, some of the surviving Swahili-speaking Arabs returned to Oman’s capital city of Muscat to begin new lives. This paper examines the historical experiences of these communities as they reestablished themselves in Omani society, and investigates the impact of Oman’s imperial history in Zanzibar on the post-colonial identity formation of repatriated Omanis in Muscat. Most of the people involved in this study, which I refer to as the “Forgotten Generation of Muscat”, belonged to Omani families that lived East Africa for hundreds of years, and abruptly left their African homes to return to Oman in the wake of Zanzibar’s independence movement.
This paper was inspired by my own experiences living in Oman with a “Forgotten Generation” Swahili-speaking Omani family in Muscat while on a FLAS fellowship in 2006-7. Sources for this paper include my own interviews, data from government sources, and a survey of secondary literature to explain the process of re-integration that Swahili speaking families underwent in the post-1964 era. As an outsider, it is impossible for me to fully understand the process of displacement and reintegration that East African Omani families experienced during the post-1964 period. However, as a historian, I hope to increase the scholarly understanding of Oman as part of the wider Indian Ocean system by mining the themes of social and national identity formation during the early phases of Sultan Qbks’ government (1970-present).
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Edited by Dhara Anjaria and Tracy C. Barrett
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy.