Museums, globalization, art, sociology of culture, museum studies, critical theory, art theory, art historiography, Arab States of the Persian Gulf
Amy Zhang is a Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies. She received an M.A. in Liberal Studies from The New School for Social Research and a B.A. in Philosophy and B.F.A. in Art History from The University of Texas.
Her dissertation investigates the construction and maintenance of legitimacy for newly developed fine art museums in the Arabian Peninsula. In part, it analyzes Euro-American media reception to three museums in Qatar and the U.A.E., finding that media discourse is deeply ambivalent towards globalization and about the function of universal art museums—conditions that are not original to the Gulf context but are agitated by the new art institutions arising there. It also constructs a socio-historical analysis of contemporary museum practices relying on archival research and ethnographic fieldwork in the Arabian Peninsula as well as the Euro-American West during two periods in 2018 and 2019. Finding that Arabian Peninsula art museums give refuge to marginalized perspectives from the traditional “center” of art and art history, it argues that this dynamic results from many forces originating from both the Euro-American West and from the Arabian Peninsula as states in both regions concurrently negotiate the globalized and globalizing post 9/11 world.
Her analysis outlines shared dynamics experienced by relatively new non-Western actors and institutions as they engage with the established social world of the fine arts: one that emerged predominantly from Western European intellectual cultures and which has also, in various ways, attempted to revise and correct its Eurocentric heritage.
Since joining the Ph.D. program in Cultural Studies in 2014, she has continuously taught courses in the School of Integrative Studies, Honors College, and in the Cultural Studies program.
Before coming to George Mason University, she was a fellow of the India-China Institute’s India China Knowledge and Initiative Building Program, where she undertook a collaborative ethnographic research project comparing the management of cultural heritage in the performing arts in Yunnan, China and West Bengal, India.
Her dissertation research has been supported by the Provosts Research Fellowship, twice supported by the Interdisciplinary Curriculum Collaborative Award, and she has advanced her Arabic language training as a Davis Fellow at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
The New School for Social Research, Liberal Studies, MA
The University of Texas at Austin, Art History, BFA; Philosophy, BA