With a goal of contributing to the existing body of knowledge about the region through original research, CIRS awards research grants to faculty members from Georgetown University. CIRS funds empirically-based, original research projects, and creates a scholarly forum through sponsored research meetings where grant recipients share their research findings with other academics, policymakers, and practitioners. Below are some of the individual research projects funded by CIRS and conducted by Georgetown faculty members under the umbrella of larger CIRS research initiatives.
Mobility, Displacement, and Forced Migration in the Middle East
The project recognizes regional migration as a complex, widespread, and persistent phenomenon in the Middle East, and a topic best studied from a multidisciplinary approach. It broadens our understanding of the complex population movements that are seen in the Middle East, and includes the movements of those who may be identified in multiple different ways—migrants, migrant workers, guest workers, temporary migrants, low and highly skilled economic migrants, trafficked persons, forced migrants/forced workers, smuggled persons, refugees, and asylum seekers. Also included will be other migrants such as unaccompanied minors, environmental refugees, and stranded migrants.
CIRS Supported Faculty Research on Regional Migration
A Story Worth Telling: Omani-Zanzibari Identity at the Intersection of Ethnic Cleansing and Forced Migration
Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Professor of Anthropology
Over the centuries, Omani people established significant maritime networks across the Indian Ocean and the East African littoral. Although commonly associated with the official transfer of the Capital from Muscat to Zanzibar by Sayyid Sultan in 1832, many Omanis refer to a migratory pattern that spanned centuries. These migrations both before and after of the settlement of Al-Busaidi dynasty in the Zanzibar archipelago lie at the heart of the creation of a distinctly Omani-Swahili identity and political subjectivity. This project tells the story of how the forced migration of Omanis to Muscat after the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964 affected their Swahili identity. The researcher asks three main research questions: How did they think of themselves politically? How did they think of themselves socio-culturally? How do they think of themselves linguistically?
The Gulf Family
The purpose of this CIRS research initiative is to better understand how structural and ideational forces of change have been reflected in the everyday lives of Gulf families. Few studies have explored the challenges facing the Gulf family in the context of the global forces at play in the Gulf region. In effort to understand how structural and ideational forces of change have been reflected in the everyday lives of Gulf families, CIRS launched a grant-funded, multi-disciplinary research initiative to explore questions related to this topic.
CIRS Supported Faculty Research on the Gulf Family
The Omani/Zanzibari Family: Its Diasporic Histories, Connectivites and Imaginings
Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Professor of Anthropology
Informed by key anthropological debates on kinship and segmentation of “tribal” and familial identities, this study asks several questions in light of Omani historical trajectory as an imperial power in the Zanzibar Archipelago: What is the Omani family? Does the family as an institution of social regulation entrusted with maintaining morality and regulating sexuality vary cross-culturally among Omani-Zanzibari families? What were the social and political forces that impacted the ways in which family networks were forged and/or destroyed? Under what circumstances did the family as a tributary form of an established “tribal” structure prevalent in Oman transform itself into an interest group motivated by politics and economics in both locations on the Indian Ocean Rim?
Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC
In January 2013, CIRS launched a new multidisciplinary research initiative titled “Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC.” Since the bulk of ongoing research efforts are focused on non-Arab migrants, the Arab migrant communities present in the Gulf have been a neglected area that merits further scholarly discussion and focus.
CIRS Supported Faculty Research on Arab Migrants in the GCC
The Experiences of Egyptian Migrants in Kuwait
An examination of the migration flows and experiences of Egyptians in Kuwait will provide a fascinating snapshot of Arab migrants in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Researchers at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) at Georgetown University in collaboration with the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) also at Georgetown University propose an ethnographic study, focusing on the lived experience of Egyptians as migrants in Kuwait, through a literature review, desk analysis of online media sources, and fieldwork comprising of interviews and discussion groups with Egyptian migrants in Kuwait, relevant civil society actors, and government officials.
Migrant Labor in the Gulf
In 2009, CIRS awarded research grants to scholars interested in conducting primary research and field-work on migrant labor issues in one of the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. A total of thirty-three proposal submissions were received under the grant solicitation. After a rigorous selection process, the research grant committee selected four proposals to fund, including a project by Georgetown University faculty members.
CIRS Supported Faculty Research on Migrant Labor in the Gulf
Trends, Impacts, and Policy Implications of Lesser-Skilled India-Gulf Migrants
The project assesses trends, impacts, and policy implications of “lesser-skilled” Indian workers migrating to Gulf countries. The researchers note that the numbers of Indian migrants to the Gulf have increased dramatically. Yet, to date, detailed data on the demographic characteristics of lesser-skilled Indian migrants has been extremely limited. The researchers propose to provide the first ever detailed individual-level analysis of Indian migrants going to work in the Gulf region. This research employs a mixed-methods approach involving targeted interviews with key informants – employers and government officials in Gulf countries as well as recruitment agencies in India. This work will allow better assessment of current trends, impacts, and policy implications of low-skilled labor to Gulf States, particularly in light of the current financial crisis.