Identity, Community and Belonging in gcc States

Reflections on the Foreigner

in Sociology of Islam
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Studies of identity and belonging in Gulf monarchies tend to privilege tribal or religious affiliation, if not the protective role of the ruler as paterfamilias. I focus instead on the ubiquitous foreigner and explore ways in which s/he contributes to the definition of national community in contemporary gcc states. Building upon and moving beyond the scholarly literature on imported labor in the Gulf, I suggest that the different ‘categories’ of foreigners impact identity and the consolidation of a community of privilege, in keeping with the national project of ruling families. Furthermore, I argue that the ‘European,’ the non-gcc Arab, and the predominantly Asian (and increasingly African) laborer play similar, but also distinct roles in the delineation of national community: while they are differentially incorporated in ways that protect the ‘nation’ and appease the citizen-subject, varying degrees of marginality reflect Gulf society’s perceptions or aspirations of the difference between itself and ‘the other(s).’

Identity, Community and Belonging in gcc States

Reflections on the Foreigner

in Sociology of Islam



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