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Ahmed Kanna


Capitalizing Urbanism: On David Kilcullen’s "Out of the Mountains"

[A car bomb in Iraq. Image from Wikimedia.]

“It’s a book about future conflicts and future cities.” David Kilcullen, Out of the Mountains “…the whole fucking city was trying to kill them!” Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down   In his book, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla, author David Kilcullen, describes how in 2007, just after “the worst months of the Iraq War” (19), he was drinking expensive cocktails at a fashionable Manhattan hotel with an old Australian army buddy. ...

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Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula Roundtable: Towards a Critical Cartography of the Political in the Arabian Peninsula

[This is one of seven contributions in Jadaliyya's electronic roundtable on the symbolic and material practices of knowledge production on the Arabian Peninsula. Moderated by Rosie Bsheer and John Warner, it features Toby Jones, Madawi Al-Rasheed, Adam Hanieh, Neha Vora, Nathalie Peutz, John Willis, and Ahmed Kanna.] (1) Historically, what have the dominant analytical approaches to the study of the Arabian Peninsula been? How have the difficulties of carrying out research ...

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Bahrain: The Dragonfly's Eye

[One day's worth of used tear gas canisters in Buri, Bahrain, 14 October 2011. Image by Saeed Saif]

I look in the dragonfly's eye, and I see the mountains over my shoulder--- Issa Bahrain is a small country, and though the story of its own trials and troubles during the past year and a half is intrinsically valuable, it also tells a bigger story, about bigger countries. Small countries, distant provinces, and overlooked corners of empire—places on which metropolitan elites look with condescension, if they ever even bother to—often better reveal the truths of geopolitical ...

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Bombing the Neighborhood: Daniel Ellsberg and the Radical Critique of American Empire

[Still image from

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. United States, 2010. “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.” – Daniel Ellsberg Two of the most chilling scenes in Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith’s extraordinary 2010 film, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, involve Richard Nixon. Nixon had just won the 1968 presidential election, ...

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New Texts Out Now: Ahmed Kanna, "Dubai, the City as Corporation"

[Cover of Ahmed Kanna's book

Ahmed Kanna, Dubai, the City as Corporation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.         Jadaliyya: What made you write this book? Ahmed Kanna: This is my first book. It emerged from my dissertation research. When I first started studying anthropology in graduate school, I thought I would do fieldwork in Lebanon and on Levantine cultures (having spent a couple of summers traveling and living in Damascus and ...

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The Arab World's Forgotten Rebellions: Foreign Workers and Biopolitics in the Gulf

[Migrant workers in Dubai waiting for buses to their labor camp. Image from]

The Arab world is undergoing a potentially world-historical transformation. The Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi’s self-imolation, following mistreatment by state authorities in late 2010, sparked a deluge of populist anger and activism that has toppled the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, soon to be followed by street demonstrations and battles across the region.  At the time of this writing, Libyan rebels in alliance with a NATO ...

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Ahmed Kanna


Ahmed Kanna teaches anthropology and human geography in the School of International Studies, University of the Pacific. His publications include Dubai, The City as Corporation (2011, Minnesota) and Rethinking Global Urbanism (2012, Routledge, co-edited with Xiangming Chen), along with numerous articles that have appeared or are forthcoming in Cultural Anthropology, City, Journal of Urban Affairs, Review of Middle East Studies, MERIP, and Jadaliyya. He is currently working on the "global south" city and urbanism as objects of expertise.