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Charity in Saudi Arabia: Civil Society under Authoritarianism

Dr. Nora DERBAL will present her latest book: Charity in Saudi Arabia: Civil Society under Authoritarianism, (CUP, 2022). The book is based on extensive fieldwork in Jeddah and Riyadh between 2009-2020. Through a ‘bottom-up’ approach challenging dominant narratives about state-society relations in Saudi Arabia, it explores charity organizations in Jeddah. The lens of everyday charity practices offers rare insights into the religiosity of ordinary Saudis, showing that Islam offers Saudi activists a language, a moral frame, and a worldly guide to confronting inequality, thereby opening new theoretical debates about civil society and civic activism in the Gulf. The session at the CGS seminar will be devoted, in particular, to methodological questions of fieldwork and access.

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Dr. Nora Derbal is currently a postdoc at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has studied Islamic Studies and History at Freie Universität Berlin, Oxford University and King Abd al-Aziz University in Jeddah. She earned a PhD in Islamic Studies from Freie Universität in 2017; she then held a postdoc at the American University in Cairo and worked as a research assistant at the Orient-Institut, Beirut. 


IAIS Building/Seminar 1