I spoke on sunday 19th of November 2023 during this workshop jointly organized by Kuwait University, CEFREPA (French Center for Archeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS), renamed the French Research Center for the Arabian Peninsula), INALCO and CERI-Sciences Po. A second event following on this first worshop will take place in Paris on the 29th and 30th of May 2024.
Workshop’s argument : Cities and circulations: Challenging theoretical frameworks in Gulf histories and geography
The workshop takes up Frederick Cooper’s challenge to bring “historiographies of Africa, Latin America and Asia into relationship with each other, avoiding the assumption that interaction simply means borrowing from apparently more developed istoriographies.” Beyond colonial times, various spaces and geographies may be entangled in the circulation of material and immaterial goods, services, and knowledge to and from the Gulf and the mobility of people. And while literature on these geographies claim to move beyond simple dichotomies since the writing of Cooper’s seminal text, scholars in this workshop interrogate the persistence of dichotomous theoretical frameworks such as coloniser-colonised, resistance-collaboration, modernity-tradition, western-non-western. To bring a more nuanced understanding of socio-political and economic processes that have shaped and still shape contemporary societies in the Gulf, they seek comparative insights from historiographies of other regions and focus on trans-regional circulation of people, ideas and information, capital and techniques, material and political cultures, etc.https://cefrepa.cnrs.fr/2023/11/13/cities-circulations-challenging-gulf-histories-and-geographies-workshop/
By notably looking at circulations and mobilities across the so called “Global South” regions and societies, participants in this workshop will move beyond conservative notions of knowledge appropriation as well as liberal concepts of inclusion and representation. The workshop seeks to recentre the Gulf within larger imperial and colonial modes of administration (economic, cultural, linguistic, racial and administrative) and relations between and across empires. It also seeks to localise and historicise theoretical discussions in empirical contexts that have been less studied by post-colonial scholarship. By doing so, the workshop revisits historical processes of knowledge production, immigration, and cultural exchange in colonial and post-colonial geographies of the Gulf. It also uncovers histories of community, migration, language/dialect, and hinterland denials in both the making of Gulf cities and the production of their histories. The aim is to foster novel investigations that question the positionality of different actors, that humanise the landscape, and that deconstruct persistent myths, material and immaterial structures, spaces and systems that limit a critical reading on the Gulf.