Indian communities have existed in the Gulf emirate of Dubai for more than a century. Since the 1970s, workers from South Asia have flooded into the emirate, enabling Dubai’s huge construction boom. They now comprise its largest non-citizen population. Though many migrant families are middle class and second- , third-, or even fourth generation residents, Indians cannot become legal citizens of the United Arab Emirates. Instead they are classified as temporary guest workers. In Impossible Citizens, Neha Vora draws on her ethnographic research in Dubai’s Indian-dominated downtown to explore how Indians live suspended in a state of permanent temporariness
While their legal status defines them as perpetual outsiders, Indians are integral to the Emirati nation-state and its economy. At the same time, Indians—even those who have established thriving diasporic neighborhoods in the emirate—disavow any interest in formally belonging to Dubai and instead consider India their home. Vora shows how Indians in Dubai, despite their inability to formally belong to the emirate, do in fact practice and narrate many forms of belonging and informal citizenship. In so doing, this book contributes to new understandings of contemporary citizenship, migration, and national identity, ones that differ from liberal democratic models, such as those in India and the West, and that highlight how Indians, rather than Emiratis, are the quintessential—yet impossible citizens of Dubai.
Impossible Citizens would be of interest to students and scholars of migration, diaspora studies, sociology, social anthropology, and studies of political economy, state and citizenship. This book will also be of particular interest to Indian audiences, many of whom have personal, financial, or other connections to the Gulf region, which in many ways is a part of a transnational imaginary of Indiannesss.
Exceptions and Exceptionality in Dubai
1. A TALE OF TWO CREEKS
Cosmopolitan Productions and Cosmopolitan
Erasures in Contemporary Dubai
2. AN INDIAN CITY?
Diasporic Subjectivity and
Urban Citizenship in Old Dubai
3 BETWEEN GLOBAL CITY AND
Indian Businessmen, Unofficial Citizenship,
and Shifting Forms of Belonging
4. EXCEEDING THE ECONOMIC
New Modalities of Belonging among
Middle-class Dubai Indians
5. BECOMING INDIAN IN DUBAI
Parochialisms and Globalisms
in Privatized Education
Reassessing Gulf Studies
Citizenship, Democracy, and the Political
Neha Vora is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA