July 21-23, 2020, Cambridge UK

3 DAYS / 10 Workshops
MORE THAN 200 ACADEMIC PAPERS

Gulf Cooperation Council Culture and Identities in the New Millennium: Resilience, Transformation, (Re)Creation and Diffusion

Studies on nation building in the Gulf states examine the ways in which societies across the Gulf have been mobilizing the idea of national belonging and formulating a khaleeji identity (Alsharekh and Springborg 2012; McKeown, Haji, and Ferguson 2016). The proposed workshop builds upon and contributes to this body of scholarship. In line with this literature, we interrogate the ways in which ways the processes of nation building and iden ...


Studies on nation building in the Gulf states examine the ways in which societies across the Gulf have been mobilizing the idea of national belonging and formulating a khaleeji identity (Alsharekh and Springborg 2012; McKeown, Haji, and Ferguson 2016). The proposed workshop builds upon and contributes to this body of scholarship. In line with this literature, we interrogate the ways in which ways the processes of nation building and identity formation, so instrumental for the survival of Gulf monarchies, have been achieved. The discussion will highlight how Gulf states adopt different mechanism to strengthen citizen's loyalty and build a national identity within its polity in the new millenium (See Alsharekh and Springborg 2012; Cooke 2014; Dresch and Piscatori 2005) as well as the responses of various groups within the society. The workshop expands and moves beyond the existing literature in four distinct ways: a) it emphasises the contributions and limitations of existing nation-building and identity 2 formation theories in the Gulf and beyond; b) it draws attention to the experiences of different groups and how they negotiate their place in these nation-building projects; c) it emphasises how the 'Khaliji identity' travels beyond the Gulf and influences identify formation and reformation in neighbouring non-Gulf societies; and d) it focuses specifically on the new millennium as an era of rapid transformation and greater maturity of the state building projects in the Gulf. We invite qualitative and/or quantitative contributions that look at these concepts from a country or a comparative GCC-wide perspective and focus on the outcomes of these processes in the new millenium. These subjects have not been given a full academic attention despite their importance. It is the first workshop that seeks to provide this very timely analysis of these shifts from a holistic perspective. 

Objective The aim of this workshop is to provide a holistic overview of culture and identity of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE). We aim at analyzing the changes to these concepts in the last decades of, on the one hand side, rapid development of the GCC economies and increased pace of globalization, and on the other hand, transformations of the notions of statehood and belonging in the Gulf. While, national identities in the Gulf have been gradually shaped and crystallized in their more inclusive or exclusive forms, the concept of khaleeji, a panGulf identity, provides yet another dimension for analysis. Furthermore, apart from internal transformations, GCC culture has begun to reverberate outside of the Gulf. Scope Thanks to vast oil resources, the GCC region has evolved from sleepy outposts to world recognized centers of banking, tourism, trade, shopping, and more recently innovation and culture. The Gulf has put itself firmly on the world map as a place to be and to be seen with its glittering cities, extravagance of its urban projects and wealth on display. Behind the Oriental mask lies, however, a vibrant society that is young, cosmopolitan and dynamic. In addition, the Gulf has become a magnet for a large workforce, from unskilled workers to highly-skilled professionals, millions of tourists, businessmen, but also for international movie stars from Hollywood and Bollywood who spend their holidays in the Gulf and film there their new productions. Gulf citizens, on the other hand, are well-connected to the world through Internet, international travel and are better 3 and better educated. Their accomplishments in various fields are often celebrated in local media. It is a huge shift from the past generations. Globalization has opened up opportunities with international trade and travel, while the accrued wealth strengthened consumerism, but also investments in various projects such as education, economic diversification and preservation and showcasing of Gulf heritage. It is important then to analyze the interplay of these various factors on the Gulf identity and culture. Indeed, rather than obliterating the local culture and traditions, the Gulf has transformed, created or re-created its cultural acumen, and has entered the new millennium with a sense of pride in its recent achievements. In addition, thanks to multiple economic, social and cultural links, the Gulf culture has begun to make an impact in other parts of the world. These developments have been parallel to nation-building projects in the GCC. Gulf nations are, for most, recent political creations. In addition, Gulf societies have been characterized by religious, ethnic, tribal, and settlement cleavages that cut through the populations and are often seen as a factor that makes identification, and hence loyalty, with structures other than the state more salient. As a result, formation of national identities in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East has not been an easy project. Often, the structures of power kept in place determined exclusive national identity narratives and, as a result, strengthened other sub-national patterns of identification. It is important to analyze these patterns in light of the economic and demographic pressures laying ahead for the region as well as regional conflicts and rivalries. Unifying national identities are more and more needed as GCC countries have begun to abandon the rentier model and hence, ask new generations, both men and women, to actively contribute to their countries as citizens in various ways. Such contributions and sacrifices for a cause of the state occur in mostly non-participatory politics; as a result, strong identification with the state is a pre-requisite to citizens’ commitment. In addition, the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political cooperation established in 1980, provided a platform for strengthening of a khaleji identity unifying the Gulf. Yet, recent events put more and more pressures on the GCC. The Arab uprisings, military intervention in Yemen and a diplomatic row with Qatar prove that challenges abound. They put strain on the political and economic performance of the GCC countries but they also affect patterns of social identification. Consequently, the state of national identity building projects and khaleeji identity require careful assessment. This workshop sets an ambitious goal of looking at the questions of GCC identity and culture from multiple perspectives and through various lenses. We aim at creating a platform for discussion and publishing a comprehensive volume that would constitute a reference on the subject. 




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Workshop

Directors


Dr. Nermin

Allam

Assistant Professor -
Department of Politics, Rutgers-Newark University



Dr Magdalena

Karolak

Associate Professor -
Zayed University


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