Social Change and Migration in the Gulf Monarchies- Conference, July 1st 2013

A collaborative event MOBGLOB and SYSREMO at CERI -Sciences Po, 56 rue Jacob, 75006 PARIS

Conveners : Christophe Jaffrelot (CNRS / Sciences Po – CERI), Laurence Louër (Sciences Po – CERI), Hélène Thiollet (Sciences Po – CERI, Mobglob ANR Program), Leïla Vignal (Chaire d’excellence CNRS/Université Rennes-2, Sysremo ANR Program, ESO-Rennes)

Full programme here.

This conference follows up on Feedback : the impact of migration to the Middle East on sending countries », organized at CERI in September 2012. While the first venue explored the return effect of mobility on countries and societies of origin, the conference to be held in July 2013 will be looking at the consequences of mass-migration on Gulf societies, GCC states and economies. It is also building up on a previous workshop organised at the IMI – Oxford university in 2010 on Migration to the Gulf countries.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) are the largest recipients of labour migrants in the world. In countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), migrants represent more than 80% of the countries population and 95% of the labour force in the UAE. However, the political and social models that regulate the interactions between nationals and foreigner is strongly emphasizing the social and spatial segregation of both categories. Migration is presented as temporary with little of no prospect of legal integration, citizenship and permanent settlement. Migration management is geared towards “anti integration” policies promoting urban segregation, little access to socio-economic rights and zero access to political rights (Thiollet 2010). One of the premises of both research and political discourses on migration to the Gulf is that immigrants have very little interaction with their host societies, considering both the policy efforts of the GCC states and ‘the exceptional closure of local societies (Philippe Fargues, 2011, “Immigration Without Inclusion: Non- Nationals in Nation-Building in the Gulf States.” Asian and Pacific Migration Journal 20, 3-4: 273–289). Migration theory on the contrary has long been demonstrating the social impact of mobility on both host and home societies, looking both qualitatively and quantitatively at the consequences of material, cultural, financial, informational transfers on individuals and groups (See Nicholas Van Hear (2010): Theories of Migration and Social Change, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36:10, 1531-1536 and particularly Stephen Castles (2010): Understanding Global Migration: A Social Transformation Perspective, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36:10, 1565-1586). This symposium is an opportunity to look at social change in the context of the Arab springs through the lenses of migrations.

Our interest for migration in the GCC countries boiling down to a theoretical puzzle: does anti-integration policies and the lack of socio-political and economic rights prevent processes of social interactions and even integration? In other terms, does authoritarian regimes in the Gulf monarchies and the management of migrants as commodities undermine the social dynamics of human mobility?

Our goal in this conference is to question the “conventional wisdom” on migration to the GCC countries, to explore the dynamics of change both in migrants’ communities and in host societies and the policies of host countries. We shall examine both practices and norms of segregation as well a interactions between migrant communities and between migrants and nationals, either mediated by public institutions or by social and economic institutions.


9: 30 AM    Introduction

From migration to migrants : the social change approach to mobility in Gulf Monarchies by Hélène Thiollet (Sciences Po – CERI, Mobglob ANR Program)

Christophe Jaffrelot (CNRS / Sciences Po – CERI), Laurence Louër (Sciences Po – CERI), Leïla Vignal (Chaire d’excellence CNRS/Université Rennes-2, Sysremo ANR Program, ESO-Rennes)

10-12:45 AM     Policies and social change

Claire Beaugrand (IFPO) Emergence and Persistence of Statelessness: Framing Nationality in Kuwait in the Migratory Context

Hélène Thiollet (Sciences Po – CERI) Migration policies in Saudi Arabia: the ambivalence of State control over social and economic dynamics

11 : 00 – 11 : 15 AM Coffee break

Neha Vora (Lafayette College, Easton) Between Global citizenship and Qatarization: Negotiating Qatar’s new knowledge economy within American branch campuses 

Philippe Fargues (MPC Director, Florence) Does migration create bridges or divides in the Gulf?

1 : 00 – 2 : 30 PM Lunch

2:30-4:30 PM Ethnographies of change          

Andrew Gardner (Puget Sound University, USA) A Portrait of Low Income Migrants in Qatar

See Andrew’s departmental blog on his collaboration with MobGlob.

Sylvaine Camelin (Paris Ouest Nanterre University) Qualified Arabic Women in UAE : A Migration Between Constraints and Strategies

Amélie Le Renard (CMH-PRO, CNRS) Gender norms and hierarchies between nationalities. A multinational firm in Riyadh