JADMAG Issue 1.1 "Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula"
Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula
Edited by Rosie Bsheer and John Warner
Despite the sophisticated, critical, and oft-politically engaged literature emerging from and about the Arabian Peninsula, the region remains marginalized, in multiple ways, within academic and popular analyses. Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula addresses the ways in which frameworks of knowledge production have not only obscured social realities there, but also contributed to their construction. While our roundtable contributors—Madawi Al-Rasheed, Adam Hanieh, Toby Jones, Nathalie Peutz, Neha Vora, and John Willis—approach this project from a number of different disciplinary perspectives and theoretical standpoints, several key themes surface from their critical engagements. Rethinking the relationship between oil and politics emerges as perhaps the preeminent concern, with rentier state theory coming under sustained critique.
In confronting the work that knowledge production does in the creation of structures of political domination and economic exploitation, we must remain attentive to the historical processes by which the “Middle East” has been constructed as a conceptual object of European and US imperialism and Cold War politics. The challenge for us, here, is to reconceptualize our objects of analysis to illuminate these power relations and the multiple ways in which they have effected far-reaching transformations of the political, cultural, and material infrastructures of everyday life in the Arabian Peninsula. Approaching knowledge, space, identity, economy, and the political as contested and historically constituted—as the contributors to this roundtable urge us to—thus serves to relocate the peninsula within broader circuits of power, capital, labor, migration, and religion, from which they have long been analytically severed.