Nesrien Hamid

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10685

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Hamid, Nesrien (Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of) "The Road to Capital: Pilgrimage, Clerics, and the State under Saudi Vision 2030"

Saudi Arabia is in the throes of social and economic transformation under Vision 2030, a state program of economic diversification aimed at reducing oil dependency. As part of the Vision, the state aims to transform pilgrimage in Mecca and Medina from a source of symbolic legitimacy that consumed more capital than it generated into a project of capital accumulation. In tandem with these unfolding efforts to reimagine pilgrimage, the state has promulgated reforms to transform the role of religious clerics and the institutions they oversee. Through eighteen months of ethnographic and archival research, this project engages state bureaucrats, state-affiliated clerics, and a new generation of pilgrimage entrepreneurs in Mecca and Medina to ask how emerging logics of capital accumulation interface with longstanding normative ritual practices like pilgrimage. By conceiving of Mecca and Medina as capitalist peripheries—i.e., nascent spheres of capital accumulation and atypical sites through which to ethnographically examine capitalism—and engaging Saudi clerics as social theorists, this project aims to theoretically contribute to debates about how capitalism functions at this historical juncture.