CFP: 2014 Gulf Conference (1-2 September) – The Heritage Boom in the Gulf. Critical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives


The Heritage Boom in the Gulf;

Critical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives


1‐2 September 2014

Interest  in  cultural  heritage  (turath)  and  identity  issues  has  reached  unprecedented visibility in the Gulf in recent years. The development of national  museums and national archives; the burgeoning of ‘heritage villages’ in order to  highlight continuity with a suitable, sometimes idealized, past; the architectural  rehabilitation  of  city  centres;  the  drafting    of  heritage  laws (as in  Bahrain  and  Oman);  the  increasing  centrality  in  official  discourses  of  concepts  such  as  authenticity  (asala)  and  traditions  (taqalid);  the  investment  in  international  conferences  and  research programmes  to  “discover  the  past”1:  these  are  but  a  few  illustrations  of  the political, social and economic  role  of memory, heritage and material culture in the Gulf today.   GCC states, in a local variant of strategies used elsewhere, have pursue policies  to  select  the  past,  promote  official  national  accounts  and  historiographies  and  develop  what  might  be  called  ‘identity  engineering’,  in  which  past  material  artefacts,  natural  landscapes,  traditions  and  symbolic  references  have  become  now  cultural,  symbolic  and material  resources.  At  the  same  time,  the  past  and  memory have also been appropriated by other actors – from sub‐national groups to NGOs and social media –  to project dissonant views, or  to anchor alternative  discourses and references in the culture and the history of the region.

1  To paraphrase  the Discovering Qatar’s Past workshop  for children organised in  January 2014  by UCL‐Qatar in partnership with Qatar’s National Museum.  While identity and  heritage issues are  usually  tackled  by  scholars  through  uni‐ disciplinary lenses,  this conference aims  to bring  together scholars  from across  the  humanities  and  social  sciences,  in  particular  from  archeology,  history,  linguistics, political science, political economy, sociology and anthropology. This  inter‐disciplinary  approach,  in  the  best  acclaimed  tradition  of  the  Exeter  Gulf  Conferences,  will  give  the  opportunity  to  confront  and  discuss methodological  and  theoretical  approaches  to  heritage  and  identity  issues  in  the  Gulf,  and  to  answer key questions for the future of the these countries’ social contracts:

• What makes past become ‘heritage’ in the Gulf?

• How  have  heritage  and  material  culture  been  used,  transmitted  and transformed in the Gulf?

• Who  are  the  producers  and  promoters  of  these  discourses  on  heritage

• What are the objectives and interests driving these multiple stakeholders in the creation and management of heritage?

• To what  extent  does  the  demographic  structure  of  the  Gulf monarchies,

where  expatriates  comprise  about  half  of  the  total  GCC  population  –indeed a  significant majority in  several  states  – inform  these discourses

• What meaning should be given to this ‘heritage boom’?

Possible topics for papers include:

• Museums and museography

• Politics of identity‐building

• Sub‐ and trans‐national identities and communities

• Capital, consumption and class

• Tourism and business

• Gender, sexuality and family

• Migrants, expatriates and citizenship

• Daily behaviours and practices

• Architecture and cities

• Orality, folklore and popular culture

• The local, the regional and the global

A  special  issue  of  a  leading  peer‐review  journal  or/and  an  edited  volume  on  heritage  and  memory  in  the  Gulf  (published  by  a  leading  academic  publisher)  will arise out of the conference.  Interested  parties  are  asked  to  submit  paper  proposals  (abstract  of  300‐500  words),  as  well  as  a  full  CV  including  affiliation  and  contact details,  before 29  June 2014, to:

Accommodation and travel costs:  Participants  selected  to  present  a  paper  will  receive  an  honorarium  based  on

their  country  of  residence  (independent  of  their  nationality).  This  is  a  flat

amount no matter what your actual travel and subsistence costs are. Payment of  the honorarium will be made by bank transfer at the end of the Conference.

Honorarium (in GBP) depending on country of residence:


ƒ UK:                   150 GBP.

ƒ Europe:                 300 GBP.

ƒ Africa and MENA countries:           500 GBP.

ƒ Other parts of the world:             600 GBP.

Participants  pay  for  their  own  travel,  accommodation  and  subsistence  costs  (other than two lunches and a conference dinner).

For co‐authored papers, the Conference is able to provide only one honorarium.


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