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Genes and djinn : identity and anxiety in Southeast Arabia

This thesis focuses on the ways in which identity is constructed in the United Arab Emirates in the face of rapid development and immigration. The thesis draws upon ethnographic data collected over three years in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, among other Arabian Gulf communities, to explore how foreign knowledge systems, specifically genetic models of inheritance, are incorporated into indigenous bodies of knowledge to reshape the ways in which local people see themselves in the world. Long held Gulf Arab conceptions of the self and body in relation to nature, spirits and foreigners are challenged by the promises of globalization and modernity. This conflict creates both personal and social anxiety for many local people as they attempt to consolidate desert and Islamic tradition with the ambiguity of new urban and social landscapes, creating a metaphor between Gene and Djinn. This thesis follows this conflict ethnographically through the rapid construction of a new aristocratic class of citizens in the country, and the ways in which some of them imagine their downfall. As people move through the desert, the coast and the rapidly growing cities, their quest for an elusive notion of modernity ricochets into local systems of destiny, cosmology, agency, body practices, and kinship, and the languages one uses to articulate the ‘self’ and world are transformed.
Date January 2014
CreatorsParkhurst, A. L.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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