Representing the Nation: Heritage, Museums, National Narratives, and Identity in the Arab Gulf States, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Representing the Nation

Heritage, Museums, National Narratives, and Identity in the Arab Gulf States, 1st Edition

Edited by Pamela Erskine-Loftus, Mariam Ibrahim Al-Mulla, Victoria Hightower


224 pages

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The 1970s saw the emergence and subsequent proliferation across the Arabian Peninsula of ‘national museums’, institutions aimed at creating social cohesion and affiliation to the state within a disparate population. Representing the Nation examines the wide-ranging use of exhibitionary forms of national identity projection via consideration of their motivations, implications (current and future), possible historical backgrounds, official and unofficial meanings, and meanings for both the user/visitor and the multiple creators. The book responds to, due to the importance placed on tradition, heritage and national identity across all the states of the Peninsula, and the growth of re-imagined and new museums, the need for far greater discussion and research in these areas.


Representing the Nation is a timely and important collection of essays that, while considering the entire Gulf region, provide the contextualization necessary in order to understand how museums are being harnessed to recreate a past that is disconnected from younger generations; to reinforce present affluence and achievements; and, to represent new models of national identity. Covering the nation-building efforts of the 70s up to the contemporary, branded museums, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Doha, this volume is essential reading.

- Dr Jane Bristol-Rhys, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Table of Contents

Figures and Tables


Editors and Contributors

General Introduction: National Representations or Representations of the Nation: museums, heritage, identity and narratives - Pamela Erskine-Loftus, Victoria Penziner Hightower, and Mariam Ibrahim Al-Mulla

Part 1: Sensibilities

Part 1 Introduction - Pamela Erskine-Loftus

Bringing it Back Home: Redefining Islamic Art in Saudi Arabia - Idries Trevathan and Manal Alghannam

Locating Qatar on the World Stage: Museums, Foreign Expertise and the Construction of Qatar’s Contemporary Identity - Karen Exell

Context and Identity as Generators of Concept: Four Examples from Bahrain - Kamila Bielinska-Basmaji and Marwan Basmaji

We’re All Qataris Here: The Nation-Building Narrative of the National Museum of Qatar - Jocelyn Sage Mitchell

Part 2: Museuming

Part 2 Introduction - Mariam Ibrahim Al-Mulla

One Nation, One Myth and Two Museums: Heritage, Architecture and Culture as Tools for Assembling Identity in Qatar - Ali A. Alraouf

Building the Past: Archaeology and National Development in the Gulf - Andrew Petersen

Oral History and National Stories: Theory and Practice in the GCC - Rachel Teskey and Norah Alkhamis

Qatar: Cultivating ‘The Citizen’ of the Futuristic State - Marwa Maziad

Part 3: Projection

Part 3 Introduction - Victoria Penziner Hightower

All the World’s a Stage Designed by Zaha Hadid: How the Gulf’s New Mega-theatres Attempt to Promote 'Global' Identities - Katherine Hennessey

National Identity and Performativity at Bahrain National Museum - Hae Won Jeong

The Saudi Arabian National Museum: Unexpected Collections and Narratives? - Virginia Cassola

Time, Space and Narrative in Emirati Museums - Matthew MacLean



About the Editors

Pamela Erskine-Loftus is director of The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar, a forthcoming academic museum on journalism, and media.

Victoria Penziner Hightower is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Georgia—Dahlonega. She received her PhD from Florida State University in 2011 and holds two Master’s Degrees in History (Florida State University, 2004) and Near Eastern Studies (University of Arizona, 2006).

Mariam Ibrahim Al-Mulla is an Art History Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator in the History Programme at Qatar University, and in 2015 was a recipient of the national Education Excellence award

About the Series

Routledge Research in Museum Studies

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology