AUK Hosts 4th Gulf Studies Symposium
The Center for Gulf Studies (CGS) at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) held its fourth biennial Gulf Studies Symposium (GSS) at the AUK campus. The GSS is a meeting of worldwide Gulf scholars and researchers to engage in interdisciplinary discussions on diverse socio-cultural, economic, and political issues related to the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula. Each symposium is based on a particular scholarly theme that is timely both to the region and to the field of Gulf studies.
This year, the theme of the three-day public symposium was "The Gulf and Arabian Peninsula: Production and Consumption Systems.” The discussion focused on the inputs, processes, and outcomes of production and consumption systems within and across the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Participants discussed various historical and contemporary sectors under these systems.
The first day of the symposium included two panels. The first panel, “Producing State Loyalties and Political Dissent,” examined the intersection of an array of power structures as a touchstone for the crystallization of identity and citizenship. The second panel, “Top-Down Digital Constraints,” explored the growing influence of social media and globalization in challenging regional institutions.
The second day of the symposium included three panels. “Markets, Entrepreneurship, and Aspirations” included discussions on governmental interaction with entrepreneurial activities and digital ecosystems in relation to fulfilling state aspirations. “Inputs and Outputs of Labor, Migration, and Assistance” examined the influence of migrant domestic labor on reforming regional labor and population hierarchies. The last panel of the day, “Production and Consumption of Images and Words,” explored how revisiting images, spaces, and words may enable reinterpretation of social customs and practices of a given country.
The final day of the symposium included three panels. The first panel, “Systems of Knowledge,” examined the impact of formal and informal educational habits. “Faith Economies and Policies” investigated the implications of the historical commodification of religious rights and institutions over time. The last panel of the symposium, “Transitioning Demographic Systems,” explored how past and current changing populations impact various social, commercial, and educational spheres in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE.
At the end of the symposium, panel participants were invited to vote on research grant awards for their fellow researchers. The winners of the 2019 Gulf Studies Symposium Research Grants were Dr. Farah Al-Nakib, Assistant Professor of History, California Polytechnic State University, who won first place for her paper on “Consuming Nostalgia: The “Golden Era” in Kuwait’s Memory Markets.” The first runner-up research grant awardee was given to Ms. Danya Al-Saleh, PhD candidate, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison for her paper on “Who will Man the Rigs When We Go?” The Feminization of Engineering in Qatar.” The second runner-up research awardee was Mr. Froilan Malit, Jr., Research Associate, Institute for Social and Economic Research, Zayed University, for his paper on “A Spectrum of Vulnerabilities: Exploring the Migration System, Tourism, and Domestic Work in the United Arab Emirates”.
This year’s symposium was sponsored by the following companies: Kuwait Projects Company – KIPCO, Burgan Bank, Gulf Insurance Group, Qurain Petroleum Industries, United Real Estate Company, and KAMCO.
One of the panel discussions at the symposium
General photo of the attendees at the symposium