Dr Attiya Ahmad

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IAIS Building/LT2

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Dr Attiya Ahmad (Columbian College of Arts and Sciences) presents the talk "Housetalk and Everyday Conversions: South Asian Migrant Domestic Workers' Newfound Islamic Pieties in Kuwait"

Part of the IAIS Visiting Speakers Series

An Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies seminar
Date14 March 2019
Time17:30
PlaceIAIS Building/LT2

Dr. Attiya Ahmad is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at The George Washington University (Washington DC, USA). Broadly conceived, her research focuses on the gendered interrelation of Islamic movements and political economic processes spanning the Middle East and South Asia, in particular the greater Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean regions.

She is the author of Everyday Conversions: Islam, Domestic Work, and South Asian Migrant Women in Kuwait (Duke Press, 2017), which won the inaugural Fatima Mernissi Book Award by the Middle East Studies Association and the 2018 Association of Middle East Women's Studies book Award. Dr. Ahmad is currently working on an NSF and ACLS/LUCE supported project focusing on the development of global halal tourism networks.

Tea and coffee will be served in the IAIS Common Room from 17:00. Everyone is welcome to attend and registration is not required.


Abstract

Why are domestic workers converting to Islam in the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf region? Based on extensive fieldwork conducted among South Asian migrant women in Kuwait, Ahmad's talk explores how domestic workers’ Muslim belonging emerges from their work in Kuwaiti households as they develop Islamic piety in relation—but not opposition—to their existing religious practices, family ties, and ethnic and national belonging. Their conversion is less a clean break from their preexisting lives than it is a refashioning in response to their everyday experiences. In examining the connections between migration, labor, gender, and Islam, Ahmad complicates conventional understandings of the dynamics of religious conversion and the feminization of transnational labor migration while proposing the concept of everyday conversion as a way to think more broadly about emergent forms of subjectivity, affinity, and belonging.

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