As many of you know, students at the University of Puget Sound can compete for funding to support summer research endeavors. Our department’s students were particularly successful last year, and again this year we’ve had numerous proposals successfully funded. In short, the AHSS Summer Research Awards, varying from $3250 to $3750, allow students to pursue an in-depth research project over the summer months. I’ve asked each of this year’s batch of students to tell us a little bit about what they’ll be doing with their time, energy, and grant monies in the coming summer. Here’s what Kathryn had to say about her new project:
Style options, from the material detritus of the central neighborhood razed for new development in Doha, and now part of the collection in one of the three new Mshereib Museums.
This summer, I’ll be examining how museums in different national contexts communicate notions of individual identity, community, ethnicity, nationality, and global citizenship.
My journey will start off in Doha, the capital city of Qatar, a prosperous nation on the Arabian peninsula. As Qatar has risen on the world stage in recent years, foreign professionals have been brought in to consult on many design projects, including the construction of several new national museums. By conducting ethnographic interviews with museum staff and consultants, I’ll investigate how these transnational connections affect curation and exhibit design, and how the new Qatari museums communicate their national identity, and place themselves within the global museum scene.
Following several weeks in Qatar, I’ll travel to London, the home base for several museum consultancy firms involved in the Doha-area construction. There, I’ll attempt to unravel the other end of the transnational museum design business, and see how consultants mediate differences between their own culture and the culture in which they create exhibit-based narratives. I’ll also compare Qatar’s museums with historically-entrenched, traditional museum efforts in London and in other prominent cities around Western Europe.
This project will allow me to expand upon several themes I’ve uncovered while studying issues of identity and indigeneity in the museums of the Pacific Northwest, and to begin to get a feel for the enormous scale of the museum networks in our globalizing world. I’m so excited to get started on this research!
We’re really excited about this research, Kathryn, and as I know from experience — there are so many interesting things going on in museums in Qatar. You know that it’s on the hotter side there in the summer, right?