"The Stories We Tell" 2023 - Session 2

with Andrea Wright, William & Mary University Virginia, and Munira Khayyat, American University Cairo

The stories we tell matter.

Blowing Sand: Oil Camps, Security and Labour in the Gulf

Drawing on ethnographic materials collected in India and the UAE, this talk looks at the role of camps and security in structuring contemporary labor conditions in the Gulf. In particular, I focus on how camps and security reinforce racialized labor hierarchies and the isolation of migrant laborers. By exploring the experiences of migrant labors in the context of oil company practices, I demonstrate contemporary labor conditions in the Gulf are not exceptional, but rather, are a consequence of global managerial practices.

Andrea Wright is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Director of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at William & Mary. Her first book, Between Dreams and Ghosts: Indian Migration and Middle Eastern Oil, is an ethnography of Indian migration to oil and gas projects in the Gulf. She is currently finishing her second book, which examines the history of labor and oil production in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula through exploring the relationships among governments, oil companies and mobile workforces.

The Intimacy of Oil: Aramco, Arabia and Empire

This is a genealogical and familial work of scholarship embroidered by three sisters across disciplines and practices that plumbs the affective and intimate spaces of empire by way of their mother’s memoir of growing up in Aramco and their maternal grandfather’s vast photographic archive throughout the decades of his employment there. Bringing the diverse capacities of different disciplines, approaches and processes to bear upon the embodied history of empire, this sisterly work is a feminist re-ordering of archives, narratives, memories and the place of the political in the viscera of our ordinary life-worlds.

Munira Khayyat teaches anthropology at the American University in Cairo. She is the author of A Landscape of War: Ecologies of Resistance and Survival (University of California).

March 1st 2023 · 15H (CET)

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