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Ahmed Kanna: “De-Exceptionalizing the Arab Gulf: Bringing back Class Struggle & Social Reproduction”

April 24, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 210

Ahmed Kanna: “De-Exceptionalizing the Arab Gulf: Bringing back Class Struggle & Social Reproduction” 4.24.19

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Discourses of urban knowledge professionals (architects, PR professionals, etc.) on the Arab Gulf city have framed this city as an “laboratory,” a “sci-fi” space, and generally have disconnected the space from its social and historical contexts. In this paper I argue that a Marxist or class struggle perspective can best highlight how such discourses promote imperial and capitalist class power in the Gulf. Through combining this framework with a postcolonial discursive critique and feminist scholarship on social reproduction, a class struggle perspective both moves us beyond victimization discourses of Gulf labor and highlights global patterns of capitalist accumulation. In turn, the paper shows how the Gulf is an unexceptional zone of capital accumulation with labor exploitation and social reproduction regimes continuous with, and shaped by, similar such regimes in the Global North.

Ahmed Kanna is associate professor of anthropology at University of the Pacific. He is the author of Dubai: The City as Corporation (2011, University of Minnesota Press), De-Exceptionalizing the Field (with Amelie Le Renard and Neha Vora, forthcoming, Cornell University Press), and articles in Cultural Anthropology, City, and Arab Studies Journal among others.

The Center for Cultural Studies hosts a weekly Wednesday colloquium featuring work by faculty and visitors. The sessions consist of a 40-45 minute presentation followed by discussion. We gather at noon, with presentations beginning at 12:15 PM. Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunches; the Center provides coffee, tea, and cookies.

All Center for Cultural Studies events are free and open to the public. Staff assistance is provided by the Humanities Institute.


April 24, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Humanities 1, Room 210
1156 high st
Santa cruz, CA 95060 United States
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