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Call for Papers
July 23, 2019 to July 25, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Human Rights, Humanities, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Slavery, South Asian History / Studies

MLA 19 International Symposium, Lisbon, Portugal; 23-25 July 2019

Since the discovery of oil in the 1970s, Gulf Cooperation Countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oma) have employed a large expatriate labor force, primarily from neighboring South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. Recent studies claim that nearly 50.4% of the total population of the Gulf Cooperation Countries are expatriates. Such mass emigration has not only allowed for the rapid economic expansion of these countries but at the same time, they have produced a number of cultural and socio-economic consequences for the countries from where Gulf's primary workforces originate. Reports reveal that emigrant workers in the Gulf are often subjected to extremely long hours of work without overtime pay or rest days, incomplete and irregular payment of wages, physical and sexual abuse, poor living conditions, ability to practice religion, and even restrictions on their freedom of movement leading to physical and psychological trauma. However, with the exception of a few journalistic and statistical documentation of abuse and exploitation of emigrant workers, a substantial study that engages with the emigration history in the Gulf, its basis, and resultant representations in literature along with its consequences remain absent in academia. in an attempt to negate that lacunae, this panel welcomes papers about any aspect of emigration to the Gulf Cooperation Countries. Paper proposals connecting Gulf emigration to the MLA 19 International Symposium theme Remembering Voices Lost are especially welcome. Some potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • human rights in the Gulf
  • politics of migration and citizenship in the Gulf
  • notions of home, hyphenation, hybridity in Gulf emigration
  • complexities of first/second/third generation Gulf diaspora
  • 'Global' universities in the Gulf
  • Kafala system and Nitaqat law, and 'structural violence' related to gulf emigration
  • representations of Gulf diaspora in literature
  • migrant gulf literature as activism
  • pedagogy/ teaching Gulf emigration

By August 20th, please submit a 300-word abstract, brief bio, and A/V requirements to Priya Menon at

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Priya Menon

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