Call for Papers 2010 MESA Annual Meeting, San Diego
Urban Livelihoods and Politics in the Middle East
Widening income inequality, increasing labor insecurity and changing forms of deprivation and exploitation have marked the end of the 20th century across geographies. The Middle East region is not an exception. Under the neoliberal economic restructuring, while informality and precariousness have become prevalent features of livelihoods for a growing number of people, increasing rural to urban migration has made cities a primary site for studying the impact of insecure livelihoods on individual and collective lives. This panel aims to explore the relations between livelihoods and political subjectivities: How do individuals across class, age, gender, and ethnic lines experience, adapt, and/or contest precarious livelihoods? Do increasingly precarious livelihoods re-configure political alliances, activism, and practices? How does labor insecurity shape the sense of identity of workers? What types of political mobilization and contestation emerge in the cities? How do changes in economic relations shape perceptions of what is just and unjust? We seek papers that address these questions. We particularly welcome empirical, preferably comparative, papers on changing livelihoods as they relate to changing political subjectivities and practices in the urban Middle East.