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Difference and Repetition: Transnational Muslim Women, Islamic Da’wa and Cosmopolitanism in Kuwait


Institute For Middle East Studies

Popular accounts of the Arabian Peninsula often gloss the region as ‘Wahabbi’, or depict it as a space of intractable sectarian conflict. These accounts elide a more complicated religious terrain, one this presentation explores with reference to one of the region’s largest Islamic da’wa movement. Since the mid-1970’s Kuwait’s da’wa movement has developed dialogically in relation to the country’s shifting history of migration. Today it is comprised of a dynamic configuration of Muslims of different ethno-national backgrounds, one indexing the country’s overall demographic compositions in which migrants and foreign residents from throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and to a lesser degree Europe and North America, constitute the majority of the population. Drawing on several years of ethnographic research, this presentation examines the cosmopolitan forms of belonging the movement’s members develop through their interrelation and activities. By discussing the movements’ classes and programming, Dr. Ahmad will highlight the processual nature of members’ Muslim belongings, and how they develop in relation, rather than in opposition to their existing belongings.


  • Dr. Attiya Ahmad is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University where she researches and teaches on transnational labor migration and religious movements in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. She holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University.