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The Center for Gulf Studies at the American University of Kuwait will hold its fourth Gulf Studies Symposium (GSS) on 15-17 March 2019. The GSS is a meeting of worldwide Gulf scholars and researchers held biennially in Kuwait. Each symposium is based on a particular scholarly theme that is timely both to the region and to the field of Gulf studies. The theme of the 2019 GSS is "The Gulf and Arabian Peninsula: Production and Consumption Systems."


The 2019 GSS will bring together regional and international scholars to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion on the inputs, processes, and outcomes of production and consumption systems within and across the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula (incorporating the GCC states, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen) in historical and contemporary contexts.

Production. The people, institutions, firms, and states within the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula are the participants in systems of production and in all sectors of industry. Historically, the region is better known for the first two sectors of industry: raw materials (pearls and oil) and manufacturing (carpets and dhows). A large amount of academic literature has been produced on these industries, including discussions of the people, the processes, the structures, and the products. Comparatively less literature has been produced on the topics of the tertiary and quaternary sectors of industry in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula: services. These services include education, tourism, retail, and computer services such as e-commerce platforms (, digikala, etc.).

Consumption. Consumption occurs at every stage of the production line and is deeply symbiotic - although not always synergistic - with the production process. The consumption of a product or service can be ephemeral, such as eating a local strawberry. It may be repetitive, such as looking at a piece of art or ordering supplies using an e-commerce platform. It may be long-lasting, such as the consumption of news, ideas, and education. Consumption may be unintentional, such as the subconscious mental registration of road advertisements or absorption of official narratives from public entities, or it may be a conscious choice of selecting product A over product B. Sites of consumption, with particular consideration to geographical location, may be fixed or mobile. The elements and results of production and consumption in turn produce the very experiences, communities and societies in which we live.

This symposium proposes an exploration of the systems of production and consumption in the various sectors of industry and will discuss how those systems are constructed, perpetuated, re-constructed, given meaning, develop agency and engagement, interact, and/or evolve over time. Questions such as the following are to encourage disciplinarily diverse submissions:

  • Who are these producers, and how do they interact among themselves, what is their relationship to the system(s), and what is their relationship to consumers/society?
  • Why is/was this good or service produced; how are/were the decisions made to initiate or participate in the production of this good or service?
  • How are the geographies of production and consumption impacting individuals, communities, firms, societies, the state, and the very processes of production and consumption themselves?
  • How has production or consumption changed over time, and how has that impacted various sectors of society?
  • Who are these consumers, and how do they interact among themselves, what is their relationship to the system(s), and what is their relationship to producers/society?
These questions, among others, may serve as the point of departure for participants wishing to submit papers on (but not limited to) the following:
  • People: social media influencers, expatriates, immigrants, locals, private educators, factory workers, tailors, journalists, restauranteurs, bankers and financiers, government officials and policy makers, soldiers, families and family networks, artists, young entrepreneurs, app developers, bakery owners, retail workers, students, management and administration, refugees, barbers, taxi drivers, domestic workers, etc.
  • Industries: media (Zawya, Al-Jazeera), online platforms (Careem, Talabat), private education, hospitality and tourism, arms, entertainment, raw materials (oil), cryptocurrency, fashion and textiles, agriculture, real estate, health care, defense, manufacturing (ceramics), etc.
  • Products: physical and intangible goods and services.
We encourage scholars to use diverse and innovative methods and conceptual approaches in their work, and to avoid submitting work previously published.

Submissions should be sent by e-mail to Shareefa Al-Adwani ( and the Center for Gulf Studies ( by Thursday 18 October 2018. Please include your name, professional title, and institutional affiliation in the body, and attach your paper's title and 400-word abstract as a Word document. Abstracts should relate to the general symposium theme and give some indication of your position/argument, discipline, and methodology. Papers are reviewed blindly by a selection committee.

Deadline for abstract submissions: Thursday 18 October 2018
Notification of accepted abstract submissions: Wednesday 21 November 2018
Confirmation of participation: Wednesday 5 December 2018
Submission of full paper for circulation: Friday 1 March 2019
Arrival in Kuwait: Thursday 14 March 2019
Symposium: Friday 15 - Sunday 17 March 2019
Departure from Kuwait: Monday 18 March 2019

The CGS will cover the cost of airfare to and accommodation in Kuwait, as well as most daily meals.




 DAY 1: FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2019

10:00am - 11:15am: Brunch

11:15am - 11:35am: Opening Remarks

11:35am - 12:20pm: Dr. Sean Foley (
Academic Keynote Speaker)

12:20pm - 1:00pm: Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Loughani (
Industry Specialist Speaker)

1:00pm - 1:20pm: Coffee Break

1:20pm - 2:50pm: Panel 1 - Producing State Loyalties and Political Dissent
  Chair: Dr. Katherine Hennessey
Discussant: Dr. Shareefa Al-Adwani
  • Mr. Alex Boodrookas - Producing Natural Resources and National Subjectivities in Kuwait, 1945-1970
  • Dr. Natalie Koch - The Corporate Production of Nationalism: Advertising (and) the Nation in Qatar and the UAE
  • Ms. Daniel Tavana - The Origins of Electoral Opposition under Authoritarian Rule: Evidence from Kuwait
  • Ms. Abrar Alshammari - Political Narratives and Contestations in Kuwait's Creative Sector
2:50pm - 3:00pm: Coffee Break
3:00pm - 4:15pm: Panel 2 - Top-Down Digital Constraints
  Chair: Dr. James Rose
Discussant: Dr. Federico Vélez
  • Ms. Nurgul Oruc - Digital Media and Young People in the Gulf: The Entanglement Between Optimism and Cynicism
  • Dr. Jocelyn Sage Mitchell, Dr. Ibrahim Abusharif, Ms. Lolwa Al-Khori - The Production and Consumption of Social Media In the Gulf Diplomatic Crisis: Patterns and Case Studies
  • Dr. Luciano Zaccara, Mr. Mehran Haghirian - E-Commerce and Consumption Patterns in Iran: Sanctions as A Boost to Overcome External Constraints
Evening: Dinner
 DAY 2: SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2019
9:00am - 10:30am: Panel 3 - Markets, Entrepreneurship, and Aspirations
  Chair: Dr. Khalid Saeed
Discussant: Dr. Shaihana Al-Mutairi 
  • Ms. Danah Ahmad - A Journey with the Date Palm from Iraq to the United States
  • Mr. Feras Klenk - From Statecraft to Self-craft: Producing and Consuming Entrepreneurship in Oman
  • Dr. Tarek Ben Hassen - Between Economic Diversification and the Rentier State Model: Factors Shaping Entrepreneurship in the ICT Sector in Qatar
  • Dr. Fahad Al-Sumait - From Tankers to Tablets? Evaluating Kuwait's Digital Media Aspirations
10:30am - 10:45am: Coffee Break
10:45am - 12noon: Panel 4 - Inputs and Outputs of Labor, Migration, and Assistance
  Chair: Dr. Arby Siraki
Discussant: Dr. Malik Mohammad
  • Dr. Andrea Wright - Rethinking Scarcity and Surplus: Contemporary Labor in the Gulf's Oil Industry
  • Mr. Froilan T. Malit, Jr. - A Spectrum of Vulnerabilities: Exploring the Migration System, Tourism, and Domestic Work in the United Arab Emirates
  • Dr. Mara Leichtman - Kuwaiti Production and the Consumption of International Charitable Projects
12noon - 1:30pm: Lunch
1:30pm - 3:00pm: Panel 5 - Production and Consumption of Images and Words
  Chair: Dr. Inas Mahfouz
Discussant: Prof. William Anderson
  • Dr. Farah Al-Nakib - Consuming Nostalgia: The "Golden Era" in Kuwait's Memory Markets
  • Dr. Roman Stadnicki - Production and Consumption of Urban Projects' Advertising in Contemporary Kuwait: From "Images of City" to "City of Images"
  • Dr. Norman Lewis - The Instagram Effect: Does Production Change News Consumption?
  • Dr. Nele Lenze - Representation of Gulf Malayalis on Social Media
Evening: Dinner
 DAY 3: SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 2019
9:00am - 10:30am: Panel 6 - Systems of Knowledge
  Chair: Dr. Rosalind Buckton-Tucker
Discussant: Dr. George Irani
  • Dr. Neha Vora - Private Higher Education as a Public Good? The Production and Consumption of American Universities in Qatar
  • Dr. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar - Education as a Commodity: The American Branch Campus
  • Dr. Angelica DeAngelis - The Arab Open University: A Network of Knowledge Production and Consumption for the 21st Century Arab World?
  • Dr. Ildiko Kaposi, Dr. Shahd Al-Shammari - The Flaneuse in the Bookstore: Reading Culture in Kuwait
10:30-10:45am: Coffee break
10:45am - 12:00noon: Panel 7 - Faith Economies and Policies
  Chair: Dr. Mohsen Bagnied
Discussant: Dr. Hesham Al-Awadi
  • Mr. Tyler Kynn - Producing Subjects, Consuming Empire: Ottoman Patronage and Imperial Stipends in Seventeenth-Century Mecca and Medina
  • Dr. Benjamin Crace - Supplying the Faith(ful): Religious Economies and Competing Churches in Kuwait
  • Dr. Abdullah Husain - A Narrative Approach to Understanding Environmental Values within Religious Institutions in Kuwait
12:00noon - 1:30pm: Lunch
1:30pm - 2:45pm: Panel 8 - Transitioning Demographic Systems

Chair: Dr. Yasmine Jahanmir
Discussant: Dr. Pellegrino Luciano

  • Ms. Ada Petiwala - #BeMyGuestWorker: Producing Dubai for the Indian Tourist-Investor-Consumer
  • Ms. Danya Al-Saleh - "Who will Man the Rigs When We Go?" The Feminization of Engineering in Qatar
  • Ms. Laura Frances Goffman - The Production of Gulf Populations through Malaria Control: Public Health, Empire, and Oil Companies in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, 1938-1959
2:45pm - 3:00pm: Coffee Break
3:00pm - 3:30pm: Closing Remarks and Announcement of Awards


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.    

The Registration link will be available at a later stage  




Ms. Farah Al-Deehani
Gulf Studies Symposium Coordinator (2019)
Tel: 1 802040 ext. 3215






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