Deina Rabie

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

I am a linguistic anthropologist whose research interests center on gender and language in the Arabic-speaking world, namely the Arabian Gulf region, but also the greater Middle East and North Africa (MENAS) and their diasporas in the US and Europe. In my current project, I focus on the role of English in the United Arab Emirates as the state prepares for an imminent future after oil. I examine the impact of the country’s widespread English language policies on the professional and social mobility of Emirati women, members of the country’s autochthonous citizen minority. In particular, I focus on the country’s English-medium higher education system as a gateway channel of mobility that enables Emirati women to advance professionally in multinational organizations, attain state leadership positions hitherto reserved for male ruling elites, become entrepreneurs and social media influencers, and otherwise achieve forms of social and economic mobility that are historically quite new. I conceptualize language, hence, in infrastructural terms, centering linguistically mediated modes of circulation and mobility as processes through which new gendered subject positions develop in emergent global knowledge economies.

Stemming from this greater project, some of my other related research in Abu Dhabi focuses on the evolving role of quotidian sounds--like the Islamic call to prayer--and linguistic landscapes in framing citizens’ everyday experiences of ethnonational and gendered socialization amid dynamic social change. I am also interested in social media as a space of governance and governmentality. I am currently conducting preliminary comparative research in different Arab Gulf countries on social media influencers and the extent of their political reach within the autocratic and increasingly neoliberal political-economic terrain they inhabit. I ask: In what ways is the ostensibly apolitical Gulf lifestyle influencer able to be political? Moreover, how do language and gender inform their content, follower base, and reach?

Research Interests

Language and Gender, Semiotics, Feminist Anthropology, Anthropology of Infrastructure, Mobility, Media Anthropology, Digital Ethnography, Globalization, and Neoliberalism

Areas of Study

  • Arab Gulf States with a special focus on the United Arab Emirates
  • The greater Middle East and North Africa (MENAS)
  • Arab diasporas in the United States and Europe