Jocelyn Sage Mitchell, Ph.D.
Northwestern University in Qatar
Address: Education City
I am Assistant Professor in Residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, and an affiliated faculty member of Northwestern University's Middle East and North African Studies Program in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences. I hold a BA in political science and Middle Eastern studies from Brown University and an MA and a PhD in government from Georgetown University.
Middle East & North African Politics
Gender and Politics
Arab Gulf States
Nationalism, National Identity
Sport Politics Policy
Climate Change Communication
Surveys, Opinion Polling
Countries of Interest
United Arab Emirates
My work focuses on oil and politics, nation-building, and state-society relations in authoritarian contexts. My current research project challenges common assumptions of the place of money and the nature of politics in resource-rich ("rentier") authoritarian societies, using Qatar as my primary case study. Funded by multiple grants, I use a mixed-method approach that includes original, nationally representative survey data, in-depth ethnographic interviews and observations, and Arabic media analysis to better understand the domestic politics of the contemporary rentier states of the Persian Gulf.
How do perceived inequalities in allocation impact citizen satisfaction with state-distributed benefits in rentier societies? Resource-rich rentier regimes are widely theorized to maintain the economic and political satisfaction of subjects through wealth distribution. Yet, while qualitative research in the rentier states of the Arabian Peninsula has identified unequal distribution as a source of discontent, the relative importance of objective versus subjective factors in shaping satisfaction at the individual level has never been systematically evaluated. Here we assess the impacts of inequality on the nexus between wealth and satisfaction among citizens of the richest rentier regime in the world: the state of Qatar. Using original, nationally representative survey data, we test the effects of two separate mechanisms of unequal distribution previously identified in the literature: group-based discrimination, and variation in individual access owing to informal influence. Results show that perceptions of both group- and individual-based inequality dampen satisfaction with state-distributed benefits, irrespective of objective socioeconomic wellbeing. The findings demonstrate that even in the most affluent of rentier states, economic satisfaction derives not only from absolute quantities of benefits but also from subjective impressions of fairness in the distribution process.
With the onset of the Gulf diplomatic crisis in June 2017, citizens and expatriate residents in Qatar affixed patriotic decals to their cars in a show of support. Using visual evidence and ethnographic interviews gathered between August 2017 and September 2018, we analyze Qatari and expatriate participation in this shared ritual of nationalism, and what each group’s participation meant to the other. Our conclusions highlight the growth of civic nationalism narratives in Qatar as a response to the diplomatic crisis, and a corresponding reduction in regional ethnic narratives of communal belonging.
The learning objectives of the introductory American Government course, one of the most common entry-level political science classes in American universities, span both content knowledge and civic education. Much research has shown the pedagogical value of integrated learning—taking part in active and authentic experiences with democracy at the local, state, and national level—which links content to real-world experiences and solidifies these learning objectives. But what if it is difficult or impossible (due to resources, logistics, or location) to immerse a college classroom in a political process? In this article, I present a classroom exercise that brings content to life through a virtual integration in real-life American politics. Built around the biennial U.S. election cycle, this exercise assigns each student a candidate for a Senate race to follow throughout the course of the semester. This virtual integration engages the students in active learning by involving them in a real-time investigation of democracy in action, bringing classroom concepts to life and emphasizing the institutionalized uncertainty of electoral outcomes.
The online public sphere, and the ways in which its digital media platforms influence discourse, is a crucial but understudied area of research in the six Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf. Through a case study of the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis, which began in June 2017, this essay draws on the disciplines of political science, communication, and digital media studies to analyze qualitative examples of digital discourse: the role of women, territorial boundaries, and the FIFA World Cup 2022. Linking these flash points to historical struggles between the countries, this essay suggests that the politicization of the online public sphere in the region does not represent a fundamental change in the diplomacy of the region but rather a new battleground for old regional rivalries.
In 1959, a Danish anthropological expedition to Qatar created hundreds of photographs and a 16-minute film depicting the diversity of Qatari lifestyles, which included strong evidence of a Bedouin past, separate from the merchant and pearl-diving culture of the coast. However, Qatar’s new national museum, still under development, has been working on a different narrative: a more unified national identity that emphasizes the similarities of Qatari heritage rather than the differences. Artifacts such as these photos and film can become inconvenient when they do not fit new and improved civic myths, yet as some of the most important (and well known) surviving images of Qatar’s heritage, this evidence cannot be left out. How might the museum make use of the evidence so that it aligns with its narrative? Here we focus on the aesthetic style of Jette Bang’s photographs and film, which emphasizes the warmth, hospitality, and universal humanity of Qatari heritage. Our argument connects the historical and ideological contexts for both the new national museum’s push for a unity narrative and Bang’s 1959 photographs and film. We suggest that the artistic elements of these ostensibly scientific and historical artifacts may offer Qatar’s new museum a way to repurpose them without jeopardizing a narrative of national unity.
A common approach to correcting for interpersonal differences in response category thresholds in surveys is the use of anchoring vignettes. Here we present results from the first applications of anchoring vignettes in Qatar and, to our knowledge, the Arab world. We extend previous findings both geographically and substantively to show that a range of social and demographic variables account for important variation in response scale use in the domains of economic well-being and political efficacy, and that this variation leads to substantively misleading conclusions when not appropriately modeled. Qatar’s exceptionally homogeneous citizenry presents a uniquely hard test of response scale heterogeneity, and our results suggest that potentially obfuscating differences in individual reporting styles are even more ubiquitous than previously known.
Since oil exportation began in 1949, the Gulf state of Qatar has used its hydrocarbon revenues to rapidly modernize in all areas, from infrastructure to health care. Recognizing that the domestic economy cannot rely indefinitely on non-renewable fossil fuels, the Qatari government has invested in human development of all its citizens -- male and female -- through increased opportunities in the educational and employment fields. Yet the state needs more information about the drivers and obstacles of Qatari women's engagement and empowerment in order to help women balance work-life commitments and ensure successful personal and professional lives. Our project studied the intersection of two pressing concerns -- increasing female participation in education and the work force, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the family and ensuring that women's personal needs are met -- through qualitative and quantitative methods. In particular, the faculty mentored the student researchers on the use of ethnographic methods of participant-observation in majaalis al-hareem ("women's gatherings"; singular = majlis) to provide context for our survey response statistics. Our research reveals the conflict between, on the one hand, Qatari women's increased ability to pursue higher education and enter the public sphere through participation in the workforce or political arena and, on the other hand, traditional social norms and attitudes that prioritize domestic life -- a conflict that necessitates complex personal and professional choices for Qatari women today.
Who benefits from the rapid development of transnational education institutions? Despite concerns of academic capitalism or neocolonial imperialism, both the sending institutions and the host countries can benefit from these educational initiatives. I suggest that American liberal education is uniquely placed to combine local and foreign expertise in educational partnerships. Using the example of undergraduate research grant funding, I demonstrate that the international branch campuses of Qatar’s Education City have engaged in research and knowledge creation that mutually benefits the local and foreign academic communities. The sending institutions should institutionalize incentives that prioritize student learning and local expertise and needs.
Since the beginning of the diplomatic crisis in June 2017, Qatar has been busy addressing several large-scale geopolitical, economic, and security challenges. Yet the small kingdom has gone beyond these pressing issues to engage in extensive domestic policy shifts. These policies range from expanded citizenship rights to stronger labor protections to increased foreign business and investment opportunities. This presents us with a puzzle: With all of the international demands on Qatari political and financial resources, why is domestic policy such a priority? In this chapter I suggest that Qatar’s rulers are seizing the opportunities provided by this period of uncertainty to make surprisingly strong progress on societal issues that have been simmering for far longer than the blockade itself. The system-wide shock of the blockade has created a rapidly changing situation in the GCC, in which the normal parameters of social, economic, and institutional rules are “in flux” and the rules of the political game can be redefined. These moves are an indication that Qatar is using the crisis to its advantage, by pushing through domestic policy goals that may not only reshape its own country but also the GCC as a whole.
There is a common assumption about the political system in Qatar: that the state’s control of hydrocarbon wealth (and lavish distribution to citizens) suppresses dissent in exchange for economic largesse. How does this link between natural resource wealth and political acquiescence purport to work? Rentier states like Qatar—states that derive more than 40 per cent of their budgets from certain types of exports, such as oil and gas—do not have to tax their citizens to produce revenue. This financial autonomy, in theory, leads to political autonomy by severing the connection between taxation and representation. With this framework in place, all other policy preferences—no matter how sweeping—can be determined by the state, and shielded from citizen input or pressure. Rentier states, then, are seen as a special class of polities: strong, autocratic states that use their financial autonomy from society to pursue their desired policies effectively and efficiently, particularly to maintain the elites (in the GCC case, the monarchies) in power and to transform their societies. Rentier theory, however, tends to make blanket statements about the power of these states to simultaneously stabilize and radically re-mold their societies. Rentier state theory is largely silent on the policy processes that accompany these large-scale transformations, and fails to explain the specific policy and programmatic mechanisms these states use to accomplish these goals. We suggest in this chapter that rentier states do not only “power” their ways through the policy-making arena—they must also “puzzle.” In other words, even with vast financial resources and independence from their domestic economy and society, rentier states still need to craft and implement their policies and programs. Despite the wide array of wealth and coercive power available to rentier states, there is a growing body of evidence from rentier states across the globe that nevertheless demonstrates that they often fail to implement fully their transformative and developmental agendas.
All successful nation-states invent traditions in order to establish group cohesion, legitimize institutions and authority, and inculcate particular values and behaviours in society. Yet the oil-rich states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been largely excluded from theoretical discussions on nation building. This omission may owe, at least in part, to the primacy of the rentier state theoretical framework when analysing state-society relations in these countries. The assertion that rentier states do not nation-build, however, ignores empirical reality: for decades the GCC states have engaged heavily in the process of noneconomic nation building. In particular, Qatar -- arguably the quintessential rentier state due to its immense oil and gas resources and relatively small citizenry -- has used its resources to fund extensive nation-building efforts since its independence in 1971. As this chapter demonstrates, the Qatari state is purposefully reshaping a contested and ill-defined view of what it means to be a Qatari national to fit its preferred narrative in ways that promote its social and political goals. In particular, the efforts of the state to combine the separate hadar (settled townsfolk) and badu (nomadic, Bedouin communities) narratives into an idealized historical unity are a striking example of a rentier state going beyond welfare benefits alone in its quest for political stability and loyalty. This chapter contends that rentier states are not as exceptional as once perceived. The case study of Qatar suggests that while oil wealth may give rentier states more resources to pursue their goals, it does not remove their responsibilities to take charge of their national narratives. Rather, rentier states -- despite their oil wealth -- should be reinserted into the theoretical literature on nation building and invented traditions.
For more than two months, Qatar has been under a political and economic blockade led by Saudi Arabia. Just last week, Qatar approved a draft law that gives permanent residency status to certain noncitizens, including children of Qatari women married to non-Qatari men. With everything the besieged country has been doing — changing its shipping routes, finding new importers of basic food products, and solidifying its defenses — why is Qatar spending time changing its residency laws? By pushing through domestic policy goals that will reshape not only the country but the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a whole, this move is an indication that the Qatari leadership is using this crisis to its advantage. It is also the clearest sign yet that Saudi Arabia’s influence over the six-country GCC is waning. The Saudi-led blockade was an attempt to force Qatar back in line with the more conservative members of the GCC. But Qatar’s move on residency laws demonstrates that the blockade is having the opposite effect intended.
Newshour interview on U.S. primary debates. September 13, 07 GMT.
Newshour interview on U.S. primary debates. November 21, 07 GMT.
U.S. election night in-studio coverage. November 6, 23 GMT.
U.S. election night in-studio coverage. November 7, 00 GMT.
U.S. election night in-studio coverage. November 7, 01 GMT.
U.S. election night in-studio coverage. November 7, 02 GMT.
U.S. election night in-studio coverage. November 7, 03 GMT (A).
U.S. election night in-studio coverage. November 7, 03 GMT (B).
Inside Story: Are presidential debates important?
The Globalist, Interview, 35:38–42:34
The Monocle Daily, Interview, 2:52–13:02
The Foreign Desk, “The Gulf—another Cold War?,” Interview, 13:15–20:12
The Monocle Daily, Interview, 15:43–25:24
A fractured GCC meets in Riyadh amid ongoing crisis
A pesar del bloqueo, Qatar regresa fortalecido a la escena global
Princely feuds in the Persian Gulf thwart Trump’s efforts to resolve the Qatar dispute
PR and politics: ‘Davos of the Desert’ sees mass cancellations
Sous pression, le Qatar lance la contre-offensive
Will the GCC summit resolve the ongoing crisis?
Bahrain re-opens border dispute with Qatar
Most Arabs believe foreign intervention gave rise to ISIS, survey finds
Pioneering Qatari women transcend private, public spheres
Types of Cookies we use
This site employs two first-party cookies (served from us and by us that are essential for the site to operate) and two third-party cookies that deliver external services.
We use a server-generated session cookie to remember you when you are logged in to the site. This is essential to making sure that your profile details are those that are updated when you log in to make changes. This also lets us know who is logging into the site and when.
This site also uses a cookie that is created by your browser to remember when you agree to the cookie notice popup. This cookie stores nothing but the word "true" if you have agreed to the terms and is deleted when you close your browser. This cookie's only function is to prevent the cookie notice from popping up every time you refresh the site's homepage.
How to Disable Cookies Altogether
Information on how to disable cookies in your browser can be found here. Please keep in mind that disabling cookies will prevent the essential functions of most interactive websites and web applications, this site included.
This privacy notice discloses the privacy practices for (womenalsoknowstuff.com). This privacy notice applies solely to information collected by this website. It will notify you of the following:
Information Collection, Use, and Sharing
If you have any questions about this Privacy Notice, or need to contact us, we can be reached at .
Terms and Conditions
Last updated: August 04, 2019
Please read these Terms and Conditions ("Terms", "Terms and Conditions") carefully before using the http://womenalsoknowstuff.com website (the "Service") operated by Women Also Know Stuff ("us", "we", or "our"). Your access to and use of the Service is conditioned upon your acceptance of and compliance with these Terms. These Terms apply to all visitors, users and others who wish to access or use the Service. By accessing or using the Service you agree to be bound by these Terms. If you disagree with any part of the terms then you do not have permission to access the Service.
Our Service allows you to post, link, store, share and otherwise make available certain information, text, graphics, videos, or other material ("Content"). You are responsible for the Content that you post on or through the Service, including its legality, reliability, and appropriateness. By posting Content on or through the Service, You represent and warrant that: (i) the Content is yours (you own it) and/or you have the right to use it and the right to grant us the rights and license as provided in these Terms, and (ii) that the posting of your Content on or through the Service does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights or any other rights of any person or entity. We reserve the right to terminate the account of anyone found to be infringing on a copyright. You retain any and all of your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Service and you are responsible for protecting those rights. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for Content you or any third party posts on or through the Service. However, by posting Content using the Service you grant us the right and license to use, modify, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content on and through the Service. You agree that this license includes the right for us to make your Content available to other users of the Service, who may also use your Content subject to these Terms. Women Also Know Stuff has the right but not the obligation to monitor and edit all Content provided by users. In addition, Content found on or through this Service are the property of Women Also Know Stuff or used with permission. You may not distribute, modify, transmit, reuse, download, repost, copy, or use said Content, whether in whole or in part, for commercial purposes or for personal gain, without express advance written permission from us.
When you create an account with us, you guarantee that you are above the age of 18, are a woman in the academic field of Political Science, and that the information you provide us is accurate, complete, and current at all times. Inaccurate, incomplete, or obsolete information may result in the immediate termination of your account on the Service. You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your account and password, including but not limited to the restriction of access to your computer and/or account. You agree to accept responsibility for any and all activities or actions that occur under your account and/or password, whether your password is with our Service or a third-party service. You must notify us immediately upon becoming aware of any breach of security or unauthorized use of your account.
The Service and its original content (excluding Content provided by users), features and functionality are and will remain the exclusive property of Women Also Know Stuff and its licensors. The Service is protected by copyright, trademark, and other laws of both the United States and foreign countries. Our trademarks and trade dress may not be used in connection with any product or service without the prior written consent of Women Also Know Stuff. Links To Other Web Sites Our Service may contain links to third party web sites or services that are not owned or controlled by Women Also Know Stuff Women Also Know Stuff has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for the content, privacy policies, or practices of any third party web sites or services. We do not warrant the offerings of any of these entities/individuals or their websites. You acknowledge and agree that Women Also Know Stuff shall not be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with use of or reliance on any such content, goods or services available on or through any such third party web sites or services. We strongly advise you to read the terms and conditions and privacy policies of any third party web sites or services that you visit.
We may terminate or suspend your account and bar access to the Service immediately, without prior notice or liability, under our sole discretion, for any reason whatsoever and without limitation, including but not limited to a breach of the Terms. If you wish to terminate your account, you may simply discontinue using the Service, or notify us that you wish to delete your account. All provisions of the Terms which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.
You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Women Also Know Stuff and its licensee and licensors, and their employees, contractors, agents, officers and directors, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees), resulting from or arising out of a) your use and access of the Service, by you or any person using your account and password; b) a breach of these Terms, or c) Content posted on the Service.
Limitation Of Liability
In no event shall Women Also Know Stuff, nor its directors, employees, partners, agents, suppliers, or affiliates, be liable for any indirect, incidental, special, consequential or punitive damages, including without limitation, loss of profits, data, use, goodwill, or other intangible losses, resulting from (i) your access to or use of or inability to access or use the Service; (ii) any conduct or content of any third party on the Service; (iii) any content obtained from the Service; and (iv) unauthorized access, use or alteration of your transmissions or content, whether based on warranty, contract, tort (including negligence) or any other legal theory, whether or not we have been informed of the possibility of such damage, and even if a remedy set forth herein is found to have failed of its essential purpose.
Your use of the Service is at your sole risk. The Service is provided on an "AS IS" and "AS AVAILABLE" basis. The Service is provided without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement or course of performance. Women Also Know Stuff, its subsidiaries, affiliates, and its licensors do not warrant that a) the Service will function uninterrupted, secure or available at any particular time or location; b) any errors or defects will be corrected; c) the Service is free of viruses or other harmful components; or d) the results of using the Service will meet your requirements.
Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of certain warranties or the exclusion or limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages, so the limitations above may not apply to you.
These Terms shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of Arizona and the United States, without regard to its conflict of law provisions. Our failure to enforce any right or provision of these Terms will not be considered a waiver of those rights. If any provision of these Terms is held to be invalid or unenforceable by a court, the remaining provisions of these Terms will remain in effect. These Terms constitute the entire agreement between us regarding our Service, and supersede and replace any prior agreements we might have had between us regarding the Service.
We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to modify or replace these Terms at any time. If a revision is material we will provide at least 30 days notice prior to any new terms taking effect. What constitutes a material change will be determined at our sole discretion. By continuing to access or use our Service after any revisions become effective, you agree to be bound by the revised terms. If you do not agree to the new terms, you are no longer authorized to use the Service.
If you have any questions about these Terms, please contact us at .