Call for Papers: “Labor in the MENA region”


Call for Papers: “Labor in the MENA region”

The Beirut Winter Institute in Critical Development Studies
Event Illustration


The “Critical Approaches to Development Studies in the MENA Region" project at the American University of Beirut (AUB) is pleased to announce the call for applications for the first edition of the Beirut Winter Institute in Critical Development Studies to be held in Beirut1 from January 5 to 15, 2022. The topic of focus for this inaugural ten-day workshop is “Labor in the MENA region".

The Winter Institute will bring together around 15 early career scholars to discuss their work, fine- tune their research, attend lectures, and strengthen collaborative work amongst young scholars towards joint publications in a peer-reviewed journal, with the help of leading scholars in the discipline.

Selected scholars will be requested to submit a first draft of their paper in either Arabic or English by December 10th, 2021. The aim of this workshop is to prepare for the publication of a special issue in a peer-reviewed journal, or an edited book on the topic of Labor in the MENA region.

The workshop leaders include, among others: Joel Beinin, Anne Alexander, Adam Hanieh, and Elizabeth Saleh.


Research on labor in the MENA region remains scarce and scattered. The Arab uprisings since 2011 opened the door for renewed interest in research on labor in the region, with most of its scholarship being mainly centered around labor movements and mobilization (decline or revival of unions). However, research tackling the structures of the labor market, the transformations in labor relations in the region, the growth of the gig economy and the informal sector, as well as the conceptualization of labor under neoliberalism are still largely under-researched.

The MENA region presents an important avenue to study a wide range of critical issues related to labor. The region features diverse conditions such as scoring the highest rates of (female) youth unemployment and economic inequalities globally, in addition to having a very large informal sector, high influx of migrant workers, increased labor migration, and a convergence of neoliberalism and imperialism that shaped much of its labor relations and organizations. In addition, the recent transformations related to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on labor relations, and its heavily gendered implications are topics that are still to be further explored and studied. In this light, the Winter Institute aims to offer a space for young scholars to contribute to the study of labor in the MENA in conversation with the already existing scholarship. Through this exercise, fellows are expected to bring in a much-needed empirical and interdisciplinary approach to the study of labor in the MENA, grounded in critical theoretical and conceptual approaches.

1 The project is planned to take place in Beirut at the American University of Beirut. If health and political situation does not allow travel to Beirut, the workshop will be relocated.


Questions of interest

The list of suggested topics includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • -  The precariat in the MENA region
  • -  Labor migration
  • -  Organized labor movements (cooperatives, unions, and new forms of organization)
  • -  The gig economy
  • -  Informal labor
  • -  Unemployment
  • -  Gender, Race and Labor: Domestic workers, reproductive labor, care economy, etc.
  • -  Forced labor
  • -  COVID-19 and labor transformations (remote labor, online offices, etc.)

Eligibility Criteria

This call is open to early career scholars working on issues of labor in the MENA region. Eligible candidates must be in the last year of their PhD or within the first 5 years post PhD. The workshop is tailored for candidates who have a research project underway and are looking to fine-tune it and turn it into a publishable article. Candidates will be asked to send a draft paper by December 10th, 2021. Priority is given to candidates in or from the MENA region.

Submission guidelines

Submissions are open to early career scholars from diverse disciplines and interdisciplinary fields (such as sociology, anthropology, economics, geography, developments studies, etc.) whose work is focused on the study of labor in the MENA.

Applicants must submit the following documents:

  • -  a cover letter explaining their interest in attending the 2022 Winter Institute,
  • -  a CV
  • -  an abstract of a maximum of 500 words (in Arabic or English).

Submissions should be sent to no later than October 5, 2021.