Kuwait scholar examines the impact of oil on urban life in Kuwait [VIDEO]

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In a talk dated April 20, 2016, American University of Kuwait Scholar Farah Al-Nakib discussed her recently released book Kuwait Transformed: A History of Oil and Urban Life (Stanford University Press, 2016). The book traces the relationships between the urban landscape, patterns and practices of everyday life, and social behaviors and relations in Kuwait, from its settlement in 1716 through the bridge of oil discovery to the twenty-first century. The history that emerges reveals how decades of urban planning, suburbanization, and privatization have eroded an open, tolerant society and given rise to the insularity, xenophobia, and divisiveness that characterize Kuwaiti social relations today. However, over the past decade several social forces and youth-based movements—from political protesters to architects and small entrepreneurs—have been staking claims to the city and demanding a different kind of urban experience. Beyond simply reviving the declined urban center, Al-Nakib argues, their efforts have the potential to restore Kuwaiti society’s lost urbanity.