He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Of Sand or Soil: Genealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia, and reported the following:
Page 99 lands us in the heart of what I feel to be the most exciting chapter of my new study on genealogy and social contestation in Saudi Arabia, Of Sand or Soil. I am describing the genealogical correspondence of Ḥamad al-Jāsir, Saudi Arabia’s foremost genealogist and historian of the twentieth century. In the many hundreds of letters to al-Jāsir by Saudis urging him to investigate, clarify or validate their authentic Arabian tribal origins, we have a uniquely intimate view into some of the most private anxieties of a deeply reserved society. While interpreting these letters and placing them in their broader historical and anthropological context, I also track down some of their authors and develop relationships with them and their family members. Integrating personal narratives and life histories with the private correspondence of Ḥamad al-Jāsir produces a story about social change and political life in the Arabian Peninsula not previously told or acknowledged.Learn more about Of Sand or Soil at the Princeton University Press website.