Professor, Sociology and Anthropology
I am a sociocultural anthropologist whose scholarship focuses on the Gulf States of the Arabian Peninsula. My fieldwork on the Peninsula began in graduate school at the University of Arizona with a project that sought to assess the contemporary livelihoods of the Bedouin pastoral nomads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During that fieldwork, I came to understand how those contemporary pastoral nomadic livelihoods were deeply dependent on transnational labor migrants from Asia, Africa, and other parts of the Middle East. I subsequently turned my attention to these transnational conduits of migrant workers. In 2002 and 2003, I spent a year in Bahrain conducting ethnographic fieldwork for my dissertation. I explored the experiences of the diasporic Indian community there. This was the subject of my dissertation and, later, a book.
In 2008 I took leave from the University of Puget Sound and taught anthropology at Qatar University. While there, I conducted numerous ethnographic research projects. Some of these projects pursued a deeper understanding of these flows of transnational migrants to the region, but others expanded my focus to the states and societies that host these migrant populations, the astonishing cities that have arisen on the Arabian Peninsula, and the political ecology of this urban development.
Although my work has periodically addressed a variety of different scholarly conversations, much of my work has been applied in nature, and seeks to address real-world policy dilemmas and issues. My research has been supported by Fulbright Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Georgetown’s Center for International and Regional Studies, Qatar University, the Qatar National Research Fund, the United Nations, the Open Society Foundation, and several other institutions. Many of the courses I teach help students understand how to design and conduct ethnographic research projects that have both academic and applied goals that seek social justice. I have also been exploring public anthropology, art, and photography as alternative mechanisms for presenting my research findings.