Student Work

  • Theories of Urban Practice (MA)

    Rania Dalloul

    Al Ahmadi: The Early Days // Excavating Alternative Narratives of Kuwait's First Colonial Company Town between 1946-1975

    “Al Ahmadi: The Early Days” is a graphic novel which looks to reimagine and rewrite the history of a colonial company town in Kuwait, through conversations with former residents, and the co-production of an alternative narrative. What lies at the heart of this project is the excavation of buried voices and perspectives of the so-called Golden Era of Kuwait’s modernization period. Secondly, de-colonizing the historical narratives of Kuwait’s first colonial town, credited in sparking the country's rapid modernization, is integral to understand and overcome contemporary issues of harsh labor and immigration policies. Currently, the majority population of expats in Kuwait face a threat to their place in the changing landscape of Kuwaiti politics. This story poses a significant act of literary resistance through the means of accessible media (visual storytelling), in its representation of non-Kuwaiti Arabs, and their role in shaping Kuwait's modern era in the 1950s and 60s. Challenging the dominant narrative of Kuwait’s path to modernization, and reassessing the true nature of their colonial period, can reframe a contemporary respect and consideration for the Arab expats in Kuwait, who face threats to their residence and prosperity in a country they’ve known for generations as home. Ahmadi offers a case study in the universal tale of labor politics in shaping a city, and issues of identity and belonging. In an attempt to provide a shift in the discourse of “post-colonial” historiographies, this story looks at the transition of a town from colonial to national, and the complex nature of that process. Through reimagining Kuwait’s ignored history of colonial urbanism, this research confronts larger questions of contemporary urban processes and issues of modernization, globalization and post-colonialism. A shift in understanding these relationships as non-episodic, but always unraveling, can shape new and necessary future urban practices.