Field Research Grants

Adam Almqvist, Political Science

 

My research examines why governments in the global south train young citizens to be entrepreneurial and civically engaged? As social relations are increasingly marketized, governments – from Malaysia and China to Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia – are reforming the terms of citizenship by depriving young people of certain privileges (welfare programs, public employment) while stressing novel obligations (economic autonomy from the state, civic responsibility). While such strategies may be seen as purely economically motivated or as implemented to pander to international financial institutions or investors, I hypothesize that there is a (less examined) political logic to such “neoliberal citizenship reforms.” Rather than utilizing governing techniques such as discipline and coercion, these reforms reconstitute the relationship between government and self-government, responsibilizing young citizens in the reproduction of state-society relations. 

I plan to examine these issues by comparing two Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan, through a political ethnography of Government Operated NGOs (GONGOs) that promote entrepenurialism and civic responsibility among youth. GONGOs are ideal research sites since by emphasizing technical solutions to social and economic problems, they set the terms of acceptable citizen engagement in the neoliberal era, while celebrating business success and volunteerism.


 

alquist.jpgAdam Almqvist is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Political Science. He earned a BA from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, UK and a MA in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic from Lund University in Sweden. He has previously conducted research on contemporary Syrian political development and on the political economy of urban planning in post-Nasser Egypt. Almqvist’s dissertation research examines neoliberalism and the governance of youth in contemporary Arab countries.