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Request by Christa
Christa Salamandra (Oxford University) - christa.salamandra@linacre.oxford.ac.uk

In many ways the Arab Gulf epitomises the processes of transnationalism: flows of people, culture and wealth beyond national borders. Endowed with oil wealth but heavily dependent on foreign labour, the Gulf Cooperative Council states are intrinsically connected to the wider world. Through international study and travel, Arabic language satellite and print media, the internet, and offshore investment, Gulf Arabs create and recreate a transnational community. Central to this community is a changing notion of "Arabness". This project analyses both the practical interconnections between GCC countries and Britain, and their impact on modes of self-definition. A team of five researchers has begun to identify and analyse significant social, cultural, educational, religious, political and economic linkages between countries of the Arab Gulf-Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman in particular-and the UK.

London-based fieldwork constitutes a major component of "Connection and Imagery". Over the past two decades, Arabs and Arab institutions have formed a salient and vibrant part of the London cityscape. London has become a major site-perhaps the international centre--of Arab cultural production and Arabic-language media. Yet scant scholarly attention has been paid to these visiting, sojourning and immigrant populations and institutions. Gulf Arabs, who fund numerous business and cultural ventures and visit the capital in large numbers each summer, are among those most understudied. Research sites include Arab cultural and educational centres, media organisations, financial institutions, places of worship, and small business.

The project seeks GCC visitors and residents who would be willing to share their perceptions and experiences of London. Please contact me.

Connection and Imagery: Transnational Cultural Flows and the Arab Gulf is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and administered through the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. Principal investigators: Dr. Paul Dresch, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford; Dr. Madawi al-Rasheed, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Kings, College, University of London; and Dr. James Piscatori, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Oxford.