Northwestern Events Calendar


Offshore Citizens: Permanent Temporary Status in the Gulf — New Directions Lecture by Noora Lori (via Zoom)

When: Monday, June 8, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM CT

Where: Online
Webcast Link

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free of charge and open to the public

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Co-Sponsor: 150 Years of Women

Category: Lectures & Meetings, Academic, Multicultural & Diversity, Global & Civic Engagement, Women 150


Please join us on Zoom for this discussion with Professor Noora Lori of Boston University, author of Offshore Citizens: Permanent Temporary Status in the Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 2019). This is the Spring 2020 lecture in our quarterly New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies series.

About the Book

When it comes to extending citizenship to certain groups, why might ruling elites say neither "yes" nor "no," but "wait"? The dominant theories of citizenship tend to recognize clear distinctions between citizens and aliens; either one has citizenship or one does not. In Offshore Citizens: Permanent Temporary Status in the Gulf, Noora Lori shows that not all populations are fully included or expelled by a state; they can be suspended in limbo — residing in a territory for protracted periods without accruing citizenship rights.

This in-depth case study of the United Arab Emirates uses new archival sources and extensive interviews to show how temporary residency can be transformed into a permanent legal status, through visa renewals and the postponement of naturalization cases. In the UAE, temporary residency was also codified into a formal citizenship status through the outsourcing of passports from the Union of Comoros, allowing elites to effectively reclassify minorities into foreign residents.

"This pathbreaking book asks the critical yet curiously understudied question of how citizenship in Arab Gulf states is constructed — a question with great stakes given the benefits of nationality in the small, oil rich countries of the region. Lori identifies a new approach to dealing with domestic minorities while constructing national communities — the outsourcing of national membership." —Melani Cammett (Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University)

"Offshore Citizens might also have been titled 'Kafka Comes to the Middle East'. We learn that, as in Kafka's parable ‘Before the Law', many in the United Arab Emirates await their turn to enter the exalted status of citizenship but are denied, even though they wait dutifully their entire lives. ... Surreal and disturbing, but all too real for those permanent non-Arab guest workers who live it. A fascinating study of the ‘spectrum' of citizenship statuses in the region with the world's largest proportion of non-citizens." —John Torpey (Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, City University of New York)

About the Speaker

Noora Lori is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University. She is the Founding Director of the Pardee School Initiative on Forced Migration and Human Trafficking. Her research broadly focuses on the political economy of migration, the development of security institutions and international migration control, and the establishment and growth of national identity systems. She studies temporary migration schemes and racial hierarchies in comparative perspective. Offshore Citizens draws from her dissertation on citizenship policies in the United Arab Emirates, which was awarded the Best Dissertation Award by the Migration and Citizenship section of the American Political Science Association in 2014. Regionally, her work examines the shifting population movements accompanying state formation in the Persian Gulf, expanding the study of Middle East politics to include historic and new connections with East Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Professor Lori has published articles in the Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, the Journal of Politics & Society, the Journal of Global Security Studies, and for the Institut français des relations internationals (IFRI). Since joining BU, she has received the Gitner Family Prize for Faculty Excellence (2014) and the CAS Templeton Award for Excellence in Student Advising (2015). She was also a pre-doctoral fellow at the International Security Program and the Dubai Initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She has previously taught at the Dubai School of Government where she was an adjunct faculty member and visiting scholar, and at the University of Cambridge for the Heritage Summers program. Her research has been funded by the ACLS/Mellon Foundation and the ZEIT-Stiftung “Settling into Motion” Fellowship. She is the chair of the scholarly advisory board of the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies and on the steering committee of the Inter-University Committee for International Migration.

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Meeting ID: 926 9063 5048

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The New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies series features scholars from a range of disciplines taking new approaches to the study of the region. We have sought out particularly younger and early-mid career scholars — generally at the point of completing or having recently completed a first book and working on a second — whose work is not only compelling for what it tells us about its particular area of study, but for implementing or developing new methodologies for scholarly work in area studies. Given that the Northwestern MENA program is itself an interdisciplinary group, we invite scholars from a range of disciplines and who take comparative or transnational approaches to the region.

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