Neha Vora ’96, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology at Lafayette College, discusses her new book “Impossible Citizens: Dubai’s Indian Diaspora.” Vora, who spoke at Wesleyan on South Asian diasporas and globalized education last year, studied psychology and women’s studies as an undergrad at Wesleyan.
“The book is inspired by a paradox: Dubai is in many ways an Indian city, yet Indians are legally not able to obtain citizenship or permanent residency,” Vora explains. “The book argues that Indians are ‘impossible citizens’—they belong within, and despite, this condition of permanent temporariness.”
Much of Vora’s work challenges how Western society views the Gulf States, in particular, and the Middle East, in general, as opposite or exceptional in relation to its own lived experiences. Indians in Dubai, for example, express very similar forms of belonging and identity as other diaspora populations, despite being legally very differently situated than their counterparts in the U.S. and U.K.
Challenging conventional ways of thinking is among Vora’s most important tasks in the classroom. It was her own undergraduate experience as a psychology and women’s studies major at Wesleyan University that shaped her teaching philosophy. She hopes to provide that same one-on-one mentoring and encouragement that she found at a small liberal arts school.
Image: from the article
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