2014 EXETER‐GEORGETOWN GULF CONFERENCE
The Heritage Boom in the Gulf;
Critical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives
CALL FOR PAPERS
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: email@example.com.
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.