Psycho-Geographic Orientation in the Neoliberal City: Establishing and Contesting Place Identity in the Nascent Literature of Dubai

  • Michael K. Walonen
Part of the New Comparisons in World Literature book series (NCWL)


In a number of ways the United Arab Emirate (UAE) city-state of Dubai represents one of the purest incarnations of neoliberalism on the planet: in its demographic division between a small, fabulously affluent social elite and the legion of veritable indentured servants who clean the former’s homes and build their skyscrapers; in its unapologetic celebration of conspicuous consumption through state-sponsored shopping festivals and posh luxury boutiques; in its government based on the corporate organizational model; and in its status as ‘an oasis of free enterprise without income taxes, trade unions, or opposition parties’ (Davis 60). What Los Angeles was to the late modern, industrial era — a sprawling lodestone for capital, people, and the ideas and cultures they carry along with them — Dubai is to our neoliberal, postcolonial (or neo-colonial) world of globalization and ballooning consumerism. Spurred like Los Angeles by real estate boosterism and economic opportunities, Dubai exploded in population over a short span of time, going from 10,000 people living in about 2,000 houses in 1900 to roughly 1.5 million people occupying over eighty-seven square miles today — with the vast majority of that growth occurring in the twilight of the twentieth and dawning of the twenty-first centuries (Elsheshtawy 107, 121). But the inherent interest of Dubai, like Los Angeles, is not principally its mushrooming sprawl and population growth, but its paradigmatic relationship to the defining socio-cultural trends of its era.


Trade Route Moral Hypocrisy Emirati Woman Transnational Flow Wrongful Imprisonment 
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Copyright information

© Michael Walonen 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael K. Walonen
    • 1
  1. 1.Bethune-Cookman UniversityUSA

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