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An MSU- STICERD roundtable: Assessing the Political Impact of Migrants' Presence in the Arab World

Date: Tuesday 27 April 2010  
Time: 15:00-17:00 
Venue:  New Academic Building, NAB107 
Speakers: Dr. John Chalcraft, Dr. Laurence Louër, Elizabeth Frantz, Lucile Gruntz 
Chair: Professor Philippe Fargues

While the economic dimensions of migratory patterns have been well-studied, less scholarly attention has been paid to the political impact of migration in the Arab world. The presence of sizeable migrant communities in the Gulf and elsewhere in the region has been assumed to have had little influence on authoritarian political systems or to have benefitted ruling elites. To what extent is this the case? What are the more structural political consequences of large-scale migration to the region? And particularly what role has the sponsorship system (kafala) played in constraining migrants' political influence?

Due to the temporary character of migration and the quick turnover, new questions have emerged about the political  influence of return migration for migrants' home societies. Workers returning from sojourns in the Gulf are often blamed for exerting a 'conservative influence' on their home societies. How to assess this claim?

What political and social tensions have been generated by migration both in host societies and in migrants' home communities is a core question to ask to make sense of the future cohesiveness of Middle Eastern societies.  

This roundtable will present four perspectives on these questions. The following themes will be addressed:  

  • The kafala system and the bonding of labour in Jordan (Elizabeth Frantz)
  • The impact of migrants presence on the state/society relations in Bahrain (Dr. Laurence Louër)
  • Migration and Popular Protest in the Arabian Peninsula in the 1950-60s (Dr. John Chalcraft)
  • Return migration from the Gulf: the controversy over social remittances in Egypt (Lucile Gruntz)

Prof. Philippe FARGUES is Director of the Migration Program at the European University Institute, Florence .

Elizabeth Frantz, PhD candidate, Anthropology department, LSE

Dr.Laurence Louër is research fellow at Sciences Po/CERI/CNRS. She is the author of Transnational Shia Politics, London (Hurst, 2008).

Dr. John Chalcraft is a Reader in the Government department, LSE. The Invisible Cage: Syrian Migrant Workers in Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2009).

Lucile Gruntz, PhD candidate, EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), Paris

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For more information contact: Claire Beaugrand c.b.beaugrand@lse.ac.uk or Dr. Eiko Thielemann e.thielemann@lse.ac.uk