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Making Room for Migrants, Making Sense of Difference: Spatial and Ideological Expressions of Social Diversity in Urban Qatar

Sharon Nagy
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Sharon Nagy: Department of Anthropology, DePaul University, 990 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614-3250, USA. snagy@depaul.edu

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 1, 119-137

Abstract: Much has been written describing the pervasive and rapid urbanisation of the Arabian Gulf in the late 20th century. Less attention has been paid to the accompanying growth and diversification of the region's population and residents' experience of the new urbanised spaces. Based on ethnographic research in urban Qatar between 1994 and 2000, this paper describes and compares two distinct principles of social differentiation that characterise Qatar's social and spatial organisation-the distinction between Qatari citizens and foreign nationals, and internal differentiation amongst the Qatari citizenry. Along each of these two axes, meaningful social categories are produced and reproduced by a combination of formal and informal processes, including immigration and citizenship regulations, occupational and economic practices, marriage patterns and residents' attitudes towards diversity and their stereotypes of 'others'. The juxtaposition of these two axes of differentiation highlights the role of official discourse in legitimising ideologies of difference and in shaping residents' experiences of diversity in the newly transnationalised cities of the Arabian Gulf.

Date: 2006
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