Workshop 1 / GRM 2023
Cultural Heritage in the Gulf – Emerging Trends, Identity Politics, Challenges, and Concerns

The workshop aims to address the topic of cultural heritage, national identity and State practice in the Gulf region from an interdisciplinary perspective. Cultural heritage is increasingly playing a role in the formation and preservation of identity narratives in Gulf States, including nation-building narratives, and cultural policy making initiatives aiming at identity preservation. The workshop will examine the correlation between he ...

The workshop aims to address the topic of cultural heritage, national identity and State practice in the Gulf region from an interdisciplinary perspective. Cultural heritage is increasingly playing a role in the formation and preservation of identity narratives in Gulf States, including nation-building narratives, and cultural policy making initiatives aiming at identity preservation. The workshop will examine the correlation between heritage and identity, as well as between cultural practices, politics and applicable legal frameworks. It will further investigate the evolving relationship of Gulf states and societies to cultural heritage (museums, private collections, etc.) in the context of sociocultural, economic and political developments in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The workshop will focus on three main areas:The politicized role of cultural heritage in shaping overlapping and sometimes conflicting identities at the regional and local level.The effectiveness of the existing legal framework protecting tangible and intangible heritage in Gulf countries, and potential for reform.The growing problem of trafficking in cultural goods, terrorism finance, and changing regional attitudes to it.

Cultural heritage both material and immaterial is an important representation of a nation’s cultural diversity and vital to national identity building strategies. An identity that is expressed by association -- to values, places, and people and tied to memory and power. Within Gulf societies in particular this identity has been undergoing rapid transformation in the past two decades, reshaped and reframed and in some cases redefined to match the ongoing social, economic and political change that these societies are also experiencing. Yet this heritage is increasingly coming under threat from ongoing regional conflicts resulting in an unprecedented surge in looting and trafficking in cultural heritage materials throughout the region. Furthermore, social media has led to the exponential growth of this illicit trade of antiquities where an international network of traffickers, traders and terrorists utilize online platforms for the auctioning and sale of cultural goods.

This workshop seeks to address a number of questions pertaining to the evolving relationship of Gulf states and societies with cultural heritage (museums, private collections, site, monuments etc). These include:

How does cultural heritage affect the construction and determination of national identity in the Gulf region

 How do different Gulf states use heritage for politicization, legitimization, and monetization?

How are issues of decolonization vs politicization addressed by cultural heritage institutions in the region?

What are the motivations, aims, purposes, goals of museums in the region?

How is education contributing to raising awareness on the sociopolitical and economic relevance of heritage?

What is the economic contribution, impact and benefit of cultural sites to tourism industries?

What role are women playing in shaping national identity narratives through cultural heritage management and preservation; are women creating a powerful cultural hub in Qatar and elsewhere in the region?

 How deep are the legal challenges faced by the Gulf states in identity shaping, and maintain structures of equality and inequality? 

What type of ‘identity stresses’ and strains can be identified in the Gulf cultural landscape, and how do they translate into legal challenges?

How can Gulf States manage to implement more efficiently the various cultural heritage treaties which they are parties? 

 What are the challenges that Gulf States are facing in relation to heritage protection and preservation?

What legal challenges can be identified in relation to fighting the phenomenon of illicit trafficking of cultural goods, artworks and antiquities by Gulf States? What encompasses the plethora of challenges faced by Gulf states which are interested in the protection and ethical restoration of cultural heritage sites?




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Workshop

Directors


Dr. Amr

Al Azm

Associate Professor -
Qatar University



Dr. Vasiliki

Kynourgiopoulou

Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs -
Georgetown University Qatar



Dr. Eleni

Polymenopoulou

Associate Professor -
Hamad Bin Khalifa University


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