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Seminar: From Arab Spring to Sustainable Consumption? A Historical Perspective

11 Apr 2012

The Sustainable Consumption Institute invites you to attend a seminar with Relli Shechter PhD, Visiting Professor, Trinity College, University of Oxford on Wednesday 18 April 2012 (12-1pm) in South Theatre, Samuel Alexander Building, South Wing.

This lecture will focus on two pivotal Middle Eastern countries—Egypt and Saudi Arabia—in detailing the spread of mass consumption in the Middle East during the oil boom era (c. 1974-1984). During this period, tremendous hikes in energy prices and, not less dramatic, migration of millions to work in oil-exporting countries revolutionized basic human needs and aspirations for shelter, food, and clothing. The period also experienced new selling venues and promotion of goods and services. Significantly, preoccupation with buying things closely corresponded with deepening religiosity as part of everyday life and as politics.

Particularly today, in a moment of exuberance following an impressive human struggle for political freedom, it is significant to ask how do societies in the Middle East switch from current forms of mass consumption into sustainable consumption? The rather pessimistic conclusion from this historical lesson is that such change will not be easy. However, he will attempt some suggestions.

Relli Shechter is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Middle East Studies in Ben-Gurion University, Israel.  (Currently a Visiting Professor at Trinity College, University of Oxford).  He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University.  His research interests include histories of consumption and enterprises during past and present eras of globalisation in the Middle East.  His current research project compares the emergence of mass consumer societies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the first oil boom (c. 1974-1984).  For further details see his personal website at:

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