“Is the University Universal?” by Prof. Neha Vora ’96 — 2/28

Is the University Universal?: South Asian Diasporas and Globalized Education in the Gulf Arab States

Neha Vora
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
Tuesday February 28, 4:30-6:00pm
Russell House

A graduate of Wesleyan’s Feminism, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Prof. Vora is currently an assistant professor of anthropology and women’s studies at Texas A&M University.  Her book “Impossible Citizens: Dubai’s Indian Diaspora” is forthcoming with Duke University Press. Prof. Vora’s talk is sponsored by the South Asia Studies program, the Feminism, Gender and Sexuality Studies program, and the Middle East Studies program.
Talk Description
Extreme budget cuts, corporate partnerships, and neoliberalization of education have left many scholars wondering about the future of American universities. In particular, what will happen to liberal arts curricula, academic freedom, diversity, and critical thinking within higher education? The proliferation of branch campuses, particularly in Gulf Arab cities like Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai have added to these questions. This paper explores, through the experiences of South Asian diasporic youth in Dubai, some of the early impacts of this new distributed knowledge economy on forms of identification, belonging, and citizenship in the Gulf Arab States.

Neha Vora’s research focuses on forms of citizenship, belonging, and exclusion within the contemporary Gulf Arab States. In particular, she explores how economic, political, and social changes in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar shape the on-the-ground experiences of the large Indian diaspora residing in the region. Although many accounts of migrants in these countries emphasize their lack of belonging, since legal citizenship is mostly unattainable, Dr. Vora’s research follows anthropological and interdisciplinary scholarship that multiplies and expands the concept of citizenship to include different forms and scales, including urban, diasporic, transnational, flexible, and substantive.