The Arab World’s Forgotten Rebellions: Foreign Workers and Biopolitics in the Gulf
The Arab world is undergoing a potentially world-historical transformation. The Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi’s self-imolation, following mistreatment by state authorities in late 2010, sparked a deluge of populist anger and activism that has toppled the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, soon to be followed by street demonstrations and battles across the region. At the time of this writing, Libyan rebels in alliance with a NATO coalition are battling Qaddafi and his loyalists. Bahrainis, Omanis, and Yemenis, and most recently Syrians, have taken to the streets en masse, and have been met by the bullets and security thugs–and in Bahrain’s case, Saudi troops–pressed into service by regimes desperately trying to maintain the grip on power of entrenched one-family states. The analogy has been made between these events and the Prague Spring of 1968, both with its hopes for popular challenges of illegitimate state power, and its warnings about the cunning and brutality of such power arranged against popular movements. Yet before these rebellions came others, arguably more modest in their aims and undeniably less noticed by the world media. For years, workers, predominantly South Asians, have been taking to the streets in the United Arab Emirates. What have these protests been about and why have they been ignored? How might they inform future scholarship on the Gulf?MOREIt would be enlightening I think to see the differences and similarities between the immigration debate here in the USA and whats going on in the Gulf.