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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Postgraduate Course: Gulf Histories, Cultures, and Societies (IMES11121)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course offers a comprehensive introduction to the cultures and societies of the six Arab States of the Gulf region (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait) that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It will examine key issues and debates relating- but not limited to the political, economic and social transformations in the region that came on the heels of oil explorations and the advent of the rentier state thereafter. The course will consult various academic and literary sources, as well as audio-visual material to study the region creatively.
Course description The Arab States of the Gulf are home to diverse communities of both citizens and noncitizens, the latter which consists of second and third generation residents, who continue to grapple with challenges relating to identity, belonging and exclusion. The course examines the histories, cultures and societies of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait) through the lenses of transnational networks of migrations and circular settlements. The circulation of people, be they seasonal economic migrants or long-term residents, has not only shaped Gulf societies, but various communities around the world as well. The societies, cultures, and laws of the Gulf States have impacted generations of residents, who engage in various modes of capitalist consumption, religious observance, and economic belonging. How Gulf capital interacts with global dynamics, enabling the inbound and outbound mobilities of various communities and diasporas bears complex implications on the production and export of human and material capital, as well as religious thought and practice. By looking at Gulf societies and cultures through their material, spiritual and social expressions of identity and selfhood, students will develop a more nuanced understanding of the diversity that constitutes and continues to shape the peoples of the region.

The course begins by mapping the interactive histories of the Indian Ocean and the migratory patterns through which different communities were indigenised by ways of Hajj, slavery or trade. The course then disrupts the prevalent accounts of monolithic societies by examining the diversity of the region through concepts of authenticity, indigeneity, citizenship and belonging, gender and gendered spaces, among others.

The course will convene in weekly two-hour sessions, which will be a combination of lectures and discussion-based seminars. Students are expected to engage with their learning through in-class activities such as group presentations and discussions.

With the support of the instructor, PG students will be encouraged to produce creative content, such as a podcast, in which they can host a Gulf-based speaker to expand the conversation on topics and themes that were discussed throughout the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  10
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 24, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2 x 600-word response papers or produce 1 x podcast in which student interviews a Gulf-based individual (40%)
3000 words essay (60%)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback from the lecturer on their response papers or audio/visual project.
Students will receive written feedback by the lecturer on the final essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain and analyse, by drawing on scholarly texts, the histories, cultures, politics, and social conditions of the Persian Gulf region, while engaging with both the diversity and the interconnectedness within it.
  2. Identify and critically evaluate the different competing and complementary discourses on the histories and cultures of the Persian Gulf region through an interdisciplinary assessment and evaluation of academic texts.
  3. Analyse and critically evaluate and interpret academic texts on the political and social conditions existent in the Gulf.
  4. Apply and support arguments using appropriate literature through which to evaluate and re-assess conventional academic and popular understandings of the Gulf region while reflectively critiquing their methodological practices.
Reading List
Essential readings:

Potter, L. G. (2014). The Persian Gulf in Modern Times: People, Ports and History. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Dresch, P. & Piscatori, J. (eds.) (2005). Monarchies and Nations: Globalisation and Identity in the Arab States of the Gulf. London: I.B. Tauris.
Cole, D. P. (1975). Nomads of the Nomads: The Al Murrah Bedouin of the Empty Quarter. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, Inc.
Longva, A. N. (1997). Walls Built on Sand: Migration, Exclusion and Society in Kuwait. Boulder: Westview Press.
Lori, N. (2019). Offshore Citizens: Permanent Temporary Status in the Gulf. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bristol-Rhys, J. & Osella, C. (2016). Neutralised Bachelors, Infantalised Arabs: Between Migrant and Host - Gendered and Sexual Stereotypes in Abu Dhabi. In: Cornwall, A. et al. (eds.) Masculinities Under Neoliberalism. London: Zed Books.
AlShehabi, O. H. (2019). Policing labour in empire: the modern origins of the Kafala sponsorship system in the Gulf Arab States. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 48 (2), pp. 291-310.
Davidson, C. M. (2014). Expatriates and the Gulf Monarchies: Politics, Security and the Arab Spring. Asian Affairs, Vol. XLV (11), pp. 270-288.
Limbert, M. E. (2014). Caste, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Arabness in Southern Arabia. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol. 43 (3), pp. 590-598.
Al-Taee, N. (2005). 'Enough, Enough, Oh Ocean': Music of the Pearl Divers in the Arabian Gulf. Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Vol. 39 (1), pp. 19-30.
Unnikrishnan, D. (2017). Temporary People. Penguin Random House India.
Carer, J. (2018). Grain of Sand - Documentary.
Benyamin, K. (2012). Goat Days. Penguin India.
El-Bisatie, M. (2010). Drumbeat. (P. Daniel, Trans.). Cairo: American University of Cairo Press.
Kakande, Y. (2020). The Ambitious Struggle. Amazon.
Takriti, A. (2013). Monsoon Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Menoret, P. (2020). Graveyard of Clerics: Everyday Activism in Saudi Arabia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Muwafed: Temporary Homes; Permanent Belonging (Recorded Webinar; Youtube, 1:41 hr:m).

Further readings:

Al-Naqeeb, K. H. (1990). Society and State in the Gulf and Arab Peninsula: A Different Perspective (L. Kenny, Trans. 1st ed.). Routledge.
Al-Qasimi, N. (2020). Queerer Than Queer: Anti-Ancestry, Disavowal, and the Emirati Post-Oil Generation. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Vol. 26 (1), pp. 63-101.
Vora, N. (2008). Producing Diasporas and Globalisation: Indian Middle-Class Migrants in Dubai. Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 81 (2), pp. 377-406.
Bilkhair, A. (2006). African influence on culture and music in Dubai. International Social Science Journal, Vol. 58 (188), pp. 181-380.
Alsanousi, S. (2015). The Bamboo Stalk. (J. Wright, Trans.). Doha: Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing.
Alvar, M. (2016). 'A Miracle Worker.' In the Country. London: Oneworld Publications.
Khamis, S. (2019). The Online Public Sphere in the Gulf: Contestations, Creativity, and Change. Review of Middle East Studies, Vol. 53 (2), pp. 190-199.
Al-Qasimi, N. (2010). Immodesty Modesty: Accommodating Dissent and the 'Abaya-as-Fashion in the Arab Gulf States. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies, Vol. 6 (1), pp. 46-74.
DeVriese, L. (2016). Genie out of the Bottle: Social Media and the Expansion of the Public Sphere in the Arab Gulf. NIDABA: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 1, pp. 72-82.
Cosquer, C. (2022). Whiteness, upper-class authenticity and legitimacy in the Gulf: 'Expatriation' as a Struggle in Social Ranking. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
Wang, Y. (2020). Being Chinese Muslims in Dubai: Religion and Nationalism in a Transnational Space. LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series.
Karinkurayil, M. S. (2021). Losing Oneself in Kerala's Gulf Migrant Literature. Jadaliyya.
Akinci, I. (2020). Dressing the nation? Symbolising Emirati National Identity and Boundaries Through National Dress. Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 43, pp. 1776-1794.
Alsayed, W. (2014). The Impatience of Youth: Political Activism in the Gulf. Survival, Vol. 56, pp. 91-106.
Danielson, V. and Rasmuusen, A. K., eds. (2021). Music in Arabia: Perspectives on Heritage, Mobility and Nation. Indiana University Press.
Beeman, W. O. (2015). The Zar in the Persian Gulf: Performative Dimensions. Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia, Vol. 3 (1), pp. 1-12.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills -Think independently, critically, and creatively
-Formulate original questions and apply appropriate methods to research them
-Identify, interpret and synthesise different theoretical approaches and apply them to new data
-Express complex ideas with simplicity and ease in oral and written format
-Make analytical connections across local, national, and global dynamics
-Work collaboratively with others, give and receive feedback in a constructive and productive manner
KeywordsGulf,Arabian Peninsula,migration,identity,citizenship,Islam,Indian Ocean,Arab Culture
Course organiserDr Mira Al Hussein
Course secretaryMiss Lizzy Irvine
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