The Gulf as a Global Contact Zone: Chronotopic identities and (linguistic) landscapes
Migration, transformation, and urbanization emerge as the key- factors that brought changes in the Gulf area. Social change as changes in social interaction involve differently different segments of population, according to their statuses and functions. The Gulf embodies then a global contact zone, concept defined by Pratt in 1991, and to be intended as a place where a plethora of repertoires- language, culture, activities, identities- are brought together by community members. Although sharing the same macro-context (e.g. Doha) people live in their own settings, and behave consequently. Here, the concept of chronotope , literally meaning time-space, serves us well in order to take into consideration both behavior and context together, in the Gulf area. Originally adopted by Bakhtin (1981:84-85) focusing on linguistics and literature, it is true that time and space remain critical factors for any kind of human (inter)action. Those two categories frame the individual's daily practice and are subject to change along our day: the time-space of working shifts differs from the one of happy-hour or family commitments, so people are continuously placed and replaced in different frames, which have impact on their attitudes. In practice, although living in a same place (e.g. one capital city of the Gulf) time and space may be reordered many time along our day, and consequently our normative codes are reordered too. The multiplicity of contexts of interaction found in Gulf cities prove this. The same Doha offers several 'landscapes' (Landry and Bourhis1997) where many languages and codes are visible and at stake: the Education city, the Diplomatic Area, The Pearl touristic haunt, the Mall area, The Administrative district. Starting from the observation of the city, here taking Doha as a symbol, I want to suggest that the Gulf currently embodies a global contact zone, exposed to superdiversity (Vertovec 2007) from many point of view: culture, religion, language, economy, diplomacy. The question is: how local ruling élites cope with such superdiversity challenge, while keeping prosperity and security? How heterogeneity comply with political reliability and development? In other words, how superdiversity is not source for conflicts, but stability instead?