Permanently Temporary: The Politics of Waiting for Citizenship
A Brown Bag Seminar with Noora Lori
How and why are some minorities neither fully included nor simply expelled by a state? What does it mean to be suspended in limbo—residing in a territory for extended periods without ever accruing any citizenship rights? In this talk, Noora Lori will discuss her recent book, Offshore Citizens: Permanent Temporary Status in the Gulf, an in-depth study of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which uses new archival sources and extensive interviews to show how "temporary residency" can be transformed into a permanent legal status. This presentation will focus specifically on the UAE’s minorities—communities of South Asian, Persian, and East African descent whose Emirati citizenship was called into question when new biometric passports were introduced in 2008. After being stripped of their Emirati passports, these populations were issued passports from the Union of Comoros. This new legal status authorizes them to remain in the UAE, but as temporary 'guest workers'. This arrangement codifies temporary residency into a formal citizenship status, allowing elites to effectively reclassify domestic minorities into foreign residents.
Noora Lori is an assistant professor of international relations at Boston University.