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The Geopolitics of Culture: Museum Proliferation in Qatar and Abu Dhabi


In recent years, Qatar and Abu Dhabi have experienced a proliferation of museums symbolically embedded in a trilateral dialogue between the ruling families, the population, and international audiences and partners. This proliferation brings together the local and the global, the physical and the virtual, the tangible facets of politics, economics and security, and the immaterial and ideational ambitions of identity-building and country branding. By analysing the proliferation of museums in the two Emirates from an International Relations perspective and through the lens of critical geopolitics, we show that this phenomenon is an exercise in geocultural power, as ruling families use museums to make sense of the world, to define and defend their place within it, and to transform themselves.
Keywords: museum proliferation; Qatar; United Arab Emirates; spatialisation; geopolitics; geo-politicisation; geocultural power