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A Critical Rereading of Oman’s Labour and Development Story

Lecture by Crystal A. Ennis

This lecture offers a critical re-reading of Omani development and work history. Dr. Ennis will reflect on what we can learn when we shift the entry point of our analysis from oil to human beings, or in this case, from one ‘factor of production’ to another – labour. Because the oil industry is capital rather than labour intensive, the story of work remains at the margins. By “centring” these margins—the living and working— she explores some of the lineages of differentiation and resistance that have shaped the contemporary labour market young Omanis face. Such analytical shifts do not discount the importance of oil, but signal that we lose valuable comparative insights by focusing on one puzzle and emphasizing exceptional narratives. Using labour as a lens allows us to build our understanding of development trajectories, the human impact of Oman’s embeddedness in global markets, the changing nature of work and workers, and the production of difference, regulation, and governance over time.

Crystal A. Ennis is a scholar of global political economy and university lecturer at Leiden University. She is also vice president of the Association for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies (AGAPS). Her research examines labour in Oman and the Gulf, global migration governance, migration between South / South East and West Asia, and the political economy of oil dependency. Crystal is co-editor of The South Asia to Gulf Migration Governance Complex (Bristol University Press, 2022). Her articles have appeared in New Political Economy, Global Social Policy, Third World Quarterly, International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Cambridge Review of International Affairs, among others. She is currently completing a monograph entitled Millennial Dreams in Oil Economies: the global political economy of work in Oman. In autumn 2021, she is a visiting research fellow at ZMO, sponsored by Dr. Joachim Düster on behalf of the Oman Studies Centre, an independent institution founded in 1975 with the objective to promote, support and coordinate research on Oman.

The lecture will be held in a hybrid format. To participate via zoom, please register here: https://tinyurl.com/wndz4yy6
Due to the pandemic situation, on-site participation is not possible for external guests.