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National Identity in the UAE

(Martin Ledstrup, University of Southern Denmark)

This project was concluded with Martin Ledstrup’s PhD defense in January 2016. It explored the problem of modern nationhood in the UAE, in particular with respect to the in-between predicament of national belonging, global interconnectedness and individual interaction. It did so by studying processes of nearness and distance between nationals and non-nationals, or what is within social science known as 'strangerhood'. The dissertation was partly an encouragement to rethink assumptions about nationhood and interaction within Arab Gulf studies. In those studies, the relationship between nationals and non-nationals is often distilled into an image of social distance. Yet, when studied through strangerhood as an analytical prism, it becomes clearer that while empowered, nationalist links are made between Emirati nationhood and social distance, that link is made in locally situated ways, and sometimes not at all. The phenomenon of strangerhood is exactly characterized by the ambivalence of distance and nearness. More fundamentally, and by revisiting the social theory of Georg Simmel, the dissertation calls for a dialogue between general nationalism studies and the heritage from classical sociology.

Last Updated 08.12.2017