Can Europe Learn From UAE Diversity?
I’ve been working for many years now between India and the Gulf and am not naive about how remittance and migration economies work, nor about how states operate. I have to begin with this disclaimer, because in a landscape of binary thinking and quick-fire analysis, it is easy to jump into judgement.
My close ethnographic work among a range of migrants – many of whom are skilled technical and professional, and others of whom are entrepreneurs – has brought both nuance and some positive findings into my understanding of what Gulf migration can mean.
The original impetus for my part of the REALM portfolio of projects was the mis-match between overwhelmingly negative public representations of migrant life and the more ambivalent ethnographic data I had found over the 1980s and 1990s. I’ve been looking systematically into this mis-match for the past 3 years, meeting migrants and their families and trying to work out what is happening from a migrant ground-up perspective.
Here is a piece published today in the Discover Society sociology blog. We have plenty of academic and NGO work which stresses ‘ethnocracy’ and makes a focus on differential wage rates or rights for citizens and migrants. We have less which dives into the everyday ambivalence and complexity of the UAE’s superdiverse society.