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Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC$
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Zahra Babar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190608873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190608873.001.0001

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The Model Immigrant

The Model Immigrant

Second Generation Hadramis in Kuwait and the Legacy of a ‘Good Reputation’

Chapter:
(p.65) 4 The Model Immigrant
Source:
Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC
Author(s):

Abdullah Alajmi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190608873.003.0004

In the early 1950s, Kuwait underwent rapid urbanization during which first-generation Hadramis were swiftly absorbed into Kuwaiti urban houses assuming domestic service roles. It is argued that the socioeconomic path of house-serving shaped the Hadrami character and experience of the “model immigrant” as we know it today. However, the study also demonstrates how a Hadrami migratory practice of dependency on the local family and sponsor was inspired by a Kuwaiti cultural and official categorization process of different immigrant groups in which the Hadramis were depicted as loyal, easily satisfied, and non-subversive. While dependency was valued by old Hadramis as a resource and as a form of social capital, it also continued to inform the perceptions, expectations, and actions of the second-generation Hadramis. This chapter analyzes the ways in which the whole experience was conceptualized and contested in daily interaction of the two generations. This study reveals that young Hadramis’ daily activities in Kuwait, and their aspirations for individual self-sufficiency and mobility, can only be carried out by maintaining a difficult balance between the social-triad, and by managing, or perhaps preserving, the legacy of “good reputation.”

Keywords:   Kuwait, Hadrami, Domestic service, First-generation, Second-generation

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