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Title: Statelessness and transnationalism in northern Arabia : biduns and state building in Kuwait, 1959-2009
Author: Beaugrand, Claire Beatrix Marie
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis is a study of statelessness in Kuwait between 1959 and 2009. The population of Kuwait includes over 100,000 biduns, or stateless/paperless people, representing 10% of the nationals. With their origins in the tribes of Northern Arabia, they are undistinguishable from Kuwaitis but have failed to obtain nationality. Despite their role in the construction of the modern state, the biduns were classified as 'illegal migrants' in 1986. By highlighting the transnational foundations of the Kuwaiti society, this research argues that the persistence of statelessness is part of the dynamics of transnational or non-state actors in the region. Statelessness resulted from a conflict over naturalisation: Kuwaiti Arab nationalists sought support among Arab migrants, whereas the ruling family used the tribes and their transnational solidarity networks to enlarge its legitimacy basis. Biduns could mobilise cross-border resources that risked upsetting the balance of Kuwaiti society. The thesis broadens the International Relations definition of transnational actors to include solidarity networks as 'non-institutionalised' non-state actors. It challenges the liberal view that considers transnationalism, in its 'institutionalised' form, as the inevitable result of increasing global integration, arguing that states engage in a two-way process with non-state actors. This research is based on fieldwork conducted between 2005 and 2008 in Kuwait. Press archives, starting in 1972, were used in order to capture the terms of the internal debate. Further material was drawn from repeated semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, including individual stories of biduns. These primary sources were complemented by the findings of international human rights organisations. While contributing to the understanding of hidden transnational actors, this thesis adds a critical perspective in emerging Gulf studies. By labelling biduns as 'illegal migrants', Gulf monarchies have sought to portray themselves as facing the common challenge of migration while preserving their international reputation on which their security depends.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available