Representations of Non-Resident Indians from the Gulf in Online Comedy Videos

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Nele Lenze
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Longstanding connections between Indian residents and traders and the Gulf are not only featured in multiple Arab and Indian films but also in online media. Social media practices serve as tools to express and communicate identity through video and visual images. Self-representation of first- and second-generation Gulf migrants from Kerala finds its way into memes, GIF s and videos. On YouTube, comedic (self-) representation of Malayalis is introduced in a variety of genres, produced both in the United Arab Emirates and India. Although life in the Gulf is displayed from the perspective of more fortunate migrants, whose economic circumstances are often more secure than those of Indians in Kerela, these YouTube stories also depict alienation and their newfound identities as Indians from the Gulf. Ahmad Al Kaashekh’s Instagram and YouTube representations serve as one example of a comedic approach to claiming a Malayali identity in the Gulf. Through video analysis and interviews, I analyze notions of identity representation as well as the role of humor in the sources.

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