[P6379] Interrogating Race in Arabian Peninsula studies

Created by Neha Vora
Wednesday, 12/01/21 11:30 am


Within area studies of the Arabian Peninsula, “ethnocracy” has become a common term used to describe the way that state, employment, and social structures create hierarchies of privilege based on ideas of essentialized national groups. Ethnocracy allows scholars to move past normative analyses of residents as “nationals” or “migrants” and instead consider how these statuses are co-produced and interacting within relationships of power. However, difference and inequality in the Gulf region remains primarily passport-based even in critical contemporary studies, collapsing nationality with ethnicity, and unable to address how a privileged passport is not equivalent to a privileged ethnicity. This panel aims to gather scholars that analyze social hierarchies and dynamics in the Arabian Peninsula in terms of race and racialization, a much needed analytic for the study of the region both historically and ethnographically. A racial analysis has several motives and implications, as presenters in this panel will discuss. Rather than conceptualizing the Arabian Peninsula as exceptional, we consider the region’s role in histories of imperialism and slavery, whose legacies have contemporary dimensions. As hubs of transnational exchange, Arabian Peninsula societies are important contexts in which to study the interchange between globally circulating ideas about race and its local iterations, such as the ways that nationalities get tethered to racialized stereotypes within labor markets, citizenship regimes, migration circuits, state security apparatuses, and various social interactions. Papers on this panel will elaborate on questions of race and racialization in the Arabian Peninsula: to which extent, and how, has national citizenship been racialized, and what are the shifting parameters of Arabness? How can we conceptualize Blackness in the region and its relationship to Arabness and Indigeneity? Given that many inhabitants of Arabian cities are immigrants, how do racial categories circulate between their “home” societies and Gulf societies? What is the role of whiteness in the Gulf, and how is it tethered to the circulation of "expert" knowledges? How are racial hierarchies interlocked with nationality, but also class, gender, and sexuality? What are the shortcomings of scholarship that does not interrogate racial hierarchies in Arabian Peninsula studies, and how might scholars be reproducing stereotypes and hierarchies in their research practices?


Anthro; Anthro



Neha Vora

(Lafayette College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Noora Lori

(Boston University)
Noora Lori is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University. Her book, Offshore Citizens: Permanent “Temporary” Status in the Gulf (Cambridge University Press 2019) received the best book...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Amelie Le Renard

(CNRS, Paris)
Amelie Le Renard is a permanent researcher at CNRS (Paris). Her second monograph, entitled Western Privilege. Work, Intimacy and Postcolonial Hierarchies in Dubai (Stanford University Press, 2021), has just been published. She has also co-written Beyond...
Panel Participating Role(s): Co-Author; Organizer;

Idil Akinci

(University of Edinburgh)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Gokh Amin Alshaif

(UC Santa Barbara)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Danya Al-Saleh

(University of Wisconsin–Madison)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;
Le Renard, Amelie - Abstract Second Author