Amy Zhang

Amy Zhang

Amy Zhang

Graduate Lecturer

Museums, globalization and art, art and political economy, sociology of culture, museum studies, critical theory, art theory, art historiography, Arab States of the Persian Gulf

Amy Zhang is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies. She received an MA in Liberal Studies from The New School for Social Research and a BA in Philosophy and BFA in Art History from The University of Texas. 

Her dissertation asks: why are large-scale fine art museums sought by states in the Arabian Peninsula, and why is the legitimacy of these museums challenged?  This project applies content and discourse analysis to Euro-American journalism and art commentary that assess art museums in the Arabian Peninsula.  Using these museums and their reception as cases, she explores the construction and maintenance of legitimacy in the contemporary fine art 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 logics and cultures and which has also, in various ways, attempted to revise and correct it's Eurocentric heritage.  This dissertation contends that through attempting to clarify their evaluations of art museums in the Arabian Peninsula, media reception symptomatically establishes Western unease with the globalization process; and reflects inherent tensions within the existing value system of the fine arts as it has developed into two opposed forms: the elitist and the populist, within the Western tradition.  Her dissertation addresses topics including: opposed narratives about the nature of art, the possibility of 'globalization of art,' and the function that 'peripheral' art museums serve for institutions at the 'center.'

Since joining the PhD 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 Office of the Provost Summer 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