Buchpräsentation von Samuli Schielke (ZMO)
Einführung und Diskussion: Aksana Ismailbekova (ZMO) und Dina Makram Ebeid (AUC Kairo)
What kind of dreams for a good or better life drives labor migrants? What does being a migrant worker do to one’s hopes and ambitions? How does the experience of migration to the Gulf, with its attendant economic and legal precarities, shape migrants’ particular dreams of a better life? What do those dreams—be they realistic and productive, or fantastic and unlikely—do to the social worlds of the people who pursue them, and to their families and communities back home upon their return?
Based on ten years of ethnographic fieldwork and conversations with Egyptian men from mostly low-income rural backgrounds who migrated as workers to the Gulf, returned home, and migrated again over a period of about a decade, this fine-grained study explores and engages with these questions and more, as the men reflect on their strivings and the dreams they hope to fulfill. Throughout the book, Samuli Schielke highlights the story of one man, Tawfiq, who is particularly gifted at analyzing his own situation and struggles, resulting in a richly nuanced account that will appeal not only to Middle East scholars, but to anyone interested in the lived lives of labor migrants and what their experiences ultimately mean to them.
Samuli Schielke has been working as a research fellow at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) since 2009. From 2008 to 2014 he worked together with the artist and curator Daniela Swarowsky on the documentary films “Messages from Paradise” #1 and #2 that questions the dream of a better life away from home. Since this year, Schielke works on the research project “The Search for a Normal Life”, funded by the Fritz Thyssen foundation. This project addresses a key paradox of globalisation: the possibility of a stable, normal life at home relies on destabilising processes of growth, expansion, and mobility. Central to his research are the trajectories of men from rural regions in northern Egypt, that stretch along translocal migration networks in Egypt to Western Europe and the Gulf states.
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