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Summer 2015 in Dubai
Instructor: Professor Rhacel Parreñas

Dates: May 21-July 2, 2015 (June 1-23 in Dubai) (tenative)

Go to Dubai and experience a city split between the very rich and the very poor; marvel at the contrast between the tenement housing of “Old Dubai” and the malls, high-rise towers, sprawling villas and luxury cars of “New Dubai”; interact with migrant workers who are vulnerable to human trafficking and forced labor.

The course will provide a practicum for students who wish to examine the experiences of individuals who are vulnerable to human trafficking. The course takes students to Dubai – a global hub where more than 50 million individuals pass through its airport per year, a booming finance center where the lives of the wealthy and the poor that service their needs collide, where 95 percent of the labor force are migrants, where workers are without minimum wage protection, and where most migrant workers are legally bound to only work for their sponsoring employer. Because legal servitude is the norm for low-wage migrant workers in Dubai, many nongovernmental organizations including Human Rights Watch perceive this city as a hotbed of forced labor and human trafficking. Vulnerable groups include Bangladeshi construction workers, Ethiopian, Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers, low-wage janitors, and various other “company” workers employed under conditions of legal servitude.

This course will allow students to do independent field research on the experiences of labor migrants who are vulnerable to forced labor and human trafficking. The class will unpack the complexities and nuances in the experiences of vulnerable migrant populations. We will analyze why individuals knowingly agree to legal servitude, the ways discourses of human rights shape or do not shape the conditions of employment, the standard of employment across various occupations in Dubai, the ways gender, race and ethnicity shape labor migration, and lastly students will use their data to develop empirically-based solutions to the problems of forced labor and human trafficking.  Using their original data, the students will then be required to produce a brief policy report.

Program Costs:

Tuition: $6,408

Airfare: $1,250-1,450 (approx)

Accommodations: (hotel, double room with breakfast): TBD

Additional expenses: $750-1,000*

*Additional expenses include estimated costs for fees, food, and personal expenses (which can vary greatly from student to student).

Funding is available through SURF, summer undergraduate research fund.

For further information on this course contact Dr. Rhacel Parreñas, Sociology, 213-740-3533 or