Kuwait Transformed


Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 12:30pm to 2:00pm


Gund Hall, Room 124, GSD, 48 Quincy St, Cambridge

MEdiNA presents

Farah Al-Nakib
Director, Center for Gulf Studies, and Assistant Professor, History, American University of Kuwait

Dr. Farah Al-Nakib joined the American University of Kuwait as an Assistant Professor of History in the spring semester 2011. Dr. Al-Nakib obtained her PhD in history from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London in 2011; her dissertation was on the urban history of Kuwait City before and after oil. Dr. Al-Nakib was appointed as the Director of the Center for Gulf Studies in the fall semester 2011. She previously served as a member of the AUK start-up task force team that established the University in 2003, and was the University's Director of Admissions from September 2003 to June 2005.

As the first Gulf city to experience oil urbanization, Kuwait City's transformation in the mid-twentieth century inaugurated a now-familiar regional narrative: a small traditional town of mudbrick courtyard houses and plentiful foot traffic transformed into a modern city with marble-fronted buildings, vast suburbs, and wide highways.

In Kuwait Transformed, Farah Al-Nakib connects the city's past and present, from its settlement in 1716 to the twenty-first century, through the bridge of oil discovery. She traces the relationships between the urban landscape, patterns and practices of everyday life, and social behaviors and relations in Kuwait. The history that emerges reveals how decades of urban planning, suburbanization, and privatization have eroded an open, tolerant society and given rise to the insularity, xenophobia, and divisiveness that characterize Kuwaiti social relations today. The book makes a call for a restoration of the city that modern planning eliminated. But this is not simply a case of nostalgia for a lost landscape, lifestyle, or community. It is a claim for a "right to the city"—the right of all inhabitants to shape and use the spaces of their city to meet their own needs and desires.

Co-sponsors: Aga Khan Program, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
Contact: Ramzi Naja