Migrant incubators of development? The offshore infrastructures of Gulf medical training in Europe

01 May 2023 → 30 April 2026
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Anthropology of economy and development
    • Ethnicity and migration studies
    • Race and ethnic relations
    • Citizenship, immigration and political inequality not elsewhere classified
    • Development studies
Migration Development Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
Project description

Social science literature on migration from the MENA region to Europe suffers from an over-focus on refugees, radicalization, and failed ‘integration’. This project offers a novel approach by insisting on the productive potential of the ‘migratory optic’ and focusing on one particular, but enduring form of Middle Eastern immigration that has escaped scholarly attention: that of well-to-do newcomers from the Gulf Arab states who study, work, and sojourn long-term in top-tier scientific institutions across Europe. By shifting the focus away from the ‘refugee’ figure and onto a more privileged immigrant fraction—Emirati and Saudi medical students and professionals specializing in the UK and Germany—we arrive at a more nuanced understanding of what constitutes Europe’s contemporary migration regimes. Calling attention to the daunting turbo-development processes ongoing in the Gulf region, new and crucial insights will be gained about the understudied human side of socio-cultural transformation across the GCC. As such, this project will also remedy the little we know about Gulf citizens’ social and political views on developments back home. In so doing, this project advances ethnography-based political theory building on migration-induced ‘mobilities’ that cannot be analyzed in relation to a single country or religion: class-based ‘arrival infrastructures’, elite transnationalism, intra-immigrant distinction, and complex religious-secular border-crossings.