Speaking about Qatar: Discourses on National Identity in Postcolonial Gulf




Viramontes Viramontes, Erick

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Since mid-1990s, Qatar has gone through a series of transformations that have included the implementation of liberal political reforms, the boost in the exploitation of its plentiful hydrocarbon reserves and the unprecedented increase of its diplomatic activity. However, some less noticed transformations have had to do with the creation of those symbols that give Qatar its distinctive cultural character, and justify its existence as an independent nation-state, such as the construction of the national museum and the house of the national archives, the creation of the national anthem, and the celebration of the national day. This thesis is then an analysis of the way cultural heritage sites, such as museums, national celebrations, exhibition houses and archaeological sites, have ascribed Qatar’s national identity with meaning. Through electronic archival research, participant observation and semi-structured interviews, this thesis looks at how national identity is being constructed in contemporary Qatar. Its main argument is the discourse on national identity displayed in those sites comprises a series of claims that reformulate and reinvent Qatar’s national identity in light of neoliberal economic reform brought by the implementation of Qatar National Vision 2030. In addition, the discourse on national identity in contemporary Qatar also deals with longstanding trends in Qatar’s postcolonial history: namely, the particular way colonialism was experienced in the Gulf and the rendering the majority of the population to the status of non-nationals. This thesis’ main contribution is that it opens a space for reflecting on how the postcolonial nation has adapted to the changes brought by the expansion of neoliberalism in the twenty-first century postcolonial world.



Nationalism, Postcolonialism, Identity, Gulf, Qatar




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