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Graduate Student


Zaina (she/her) is a first year international PhD student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She joined the department as an MA student in the Critical Race and Ethnicity concentration, graduating in 2020 with a thesis titled “There Shall Be Made No Differentiation”: The Maintenance of Stratification in the State of Kuwait through the 1959 Nationality and Aliens Residence Laws.” She is currently interested in research that explores citizenship, immigration, belonging, and labor as it relates to race and class. Her focus naturally gravitates towards the MENA region, where she is from, due to an introspective curiosity but she is equally excited by other geographic locations.

Prior to joining UT, Zaina worked as a programming coordinator for a fine arts center as well as a national cultural center, which includes the country’s National Theater, at her native State of Kuwait for two years. She organized workshops, artist residencies, exhibitions, concerts, and theatre shows. Zaina holds a BFA in Visual Arts (2015) from the California Institute of the Arts and an MFA in Community Art (2017) from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Zaina lives far away from her family but fulfils her cuddling quota through her big fur baby Zoey, who has enjoyed attending a sociology class or two despite her arthritis and anxiety attacks - she is an adorable mess! If you see her around campus just offer her a yummy treat and she will love you forever. As for Zoey, a belly rub will suffice.

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