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HISTORY 286E: Labor Migration: Gender, Race, and Capitalism in North Africa and the Middle East

Current media coverage dwells on the plight of migrants passing through North Africa in search of higher-wage jobs in Europe. But labor migration from, to, and through North Africa and the Middle East is nothing new. Pushing beyond widespread views of labor migration as a policy problem for Western governments to "solve," we will instead explore how migrant laborers shaped the modern history of North Africa and the Middle East, from the late Ottoman Empire until today. We will read an array of texts in history and historical anthropology--each deploying different sources, methods, and empirical examples--to discuss how migrant laborers molded 1) conceptions of race and gender, 2) the development of capitalism, 3) political mobilization, and 4) the boundaries between nations and regions. Among other examples, we will discuss trans-Atlantic migrants from the Ottoman Levant who shaped labor and gender relations within the Middle East and the Americas; migrant workers from North Africa and more »
Current media coverage dwells on the plight of migrants passing through North Africa in search of higher-wage jobs in Europe. But labor migration from, to, and through North Africa and the Middle East is nothing new. Pushing beyond widespread views of labor migration as a policy problem for Western governments to "solve," we will instead explore how migrant laborers shaped the modern history of North Africa and the Middle East, from the late Ottoman Empire until today. We will read an array of texts in history and historical anthropology--each deploying different sources, methods, and empirical examples--to discuss how migrant laborers molded 1) conceptions of race and gender, 2) the development of capitalism, 3) political mobilization, and 4) the boundaries between nations and regions. Among other examples, we will discuss trans-Atlantic migrants from the Ottoman Levant who shaped labor and gender relations within the Middle East and the Americas; migrant workers from North Africa and the Middle East who sustained wartime industries in European empires and metropoles; the construction of an oil economy in the Gulf that was built by migrant labor; and sub-Saharan African domestic workers in the Middle East facing exploitation and crisis. Throughout, we will devote particular attention to the ways in which our readings place migrant laborers and their communities at the center of analysis, despite the fact that migrant laborers do not have a voice in dominant archives.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5
Instructors: Gruskin, R. (PI)
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