The Globalization of Cultural Policy in the Middle East

Only recently, De Gruyter has announced that two of its authors have won Sheikh Zayed Book Awards for translation and original research. Namely, these were Ziad Bou Akl’s French translation of Averroes and David Wirmer’s German-language disquisition on the Andalusian-Arab thinker Ibn Bāǧǧa. The latter work not only discusses the mediating role that the Arab culture has played in the transmission of the Aristotelian thought to the West, but, similar to the former publication, demonstrates the global reach that cultural policies originating in the United Arab Emirates presently have.

It is difficult to overlook the larger context in which the activity of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation that supports the book prize takes place, such as the rapid transportation of Dubai into a global city and transportation hub. Nearby Abu Dhabi puts finishing touches on its cultural complex including a local branch of the Louvre Museum to open its doors in 2017. While these urban development policies placing a prime on spectacular architecture also have an academic component in the form of the presence of Western universities at local campuses, such as the New York University Abu Dhabi, they are yet to be reconsidered from cultural policy perspective.

As literary and academic prizes from asset-rich Middle Eastern states confirm the academic quality and relevance of latest scholarship from Europe-based research institutions, the balance of cultural influence also appears to be shifting eastward following the cultural policy priorities of global foundations.


Featured Image Credits: Entrance to the Manarat Al Saadiyat, Art Dubai 21–24 March 2012 | © Courtesy of latitudes-flickr.


Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "The Globalization of Cultural Policy in the Middle East," in Sociology, Modernity, Art, April 7, 2017, http://sma.hypotheses.org/111.

Cross-Border Migrations as Inter-Cultural Movements of Translation

Bangkok International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls 26-29 November 2015, SF World Cinema, Central World Bangkok | © UN Women
Bangkok International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls 26-29 November 2015, SF World Cinema, Central World Bangkok | © UN Women

Especially in recent years, migrations have reclaimed headlines. This applies to migrant movements from Eastern to Western Europe, from the Middle East to Southern Europe and from Asian hinterlands to global metropolises. Without changing the physical geography subtending ever volatile global flows, these movements problematize cultural hierarchies, question modes of place-bound belonging, and destabilize cultural sensibilities.

The primary, even epistemologically privileged, avenue of in-depth encounter with these processes remains literature as a specifically modern genre of dealing with conflicts and contradictions that the global moment of modernity has introduced around the world from its dawn in the 16th century. As late capitalism is apparently succeeded by late modernity, the problems of translation, the geographical territorializations of culture and the renegotiations of territorial distinctions in social, cultural and economic terms, migration  can be reclaimed as a global phenomenon.

Yet, reflection on it needs to be shared transversally, rather than restricted to discursive communities balkanized into separate disciplines. One can see this taking place via calls for papers dealing with the migration-related translations of dislocated cultural experience, the jumbling of contrasting cultural narratives and translocal inscriptions of diasporic, migrant literatures in their host cultures and languages. Similarly, open access to related scholarship can be expected to stimulate germane discussions across area study boundaries.


Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Cross-Border Migrations as Inter-Cultural Movements of Translation," in Sociology, Modernity, Art, March 30, 2017, http://sma.hypotheses.org/106.

Shanghai as the Global Capital of Contemporary Art

Cai Guo-Qiang Exhibition, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China, May 4-July 25, 2010 | ©  Blaine O'Neill
Cai Guo-Qiang Exhibition, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China, May 4-July 25, 2010 | © Blaine O’Neill

It is difficult to thunk of a better sign of Shanghai’s becoming a mainstream global location for ambitious art shows than a recent retrospective of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, a late Cuba-born American artist, at the Rockbund Art Museum, located in the historical center of this metropolis. While globalization is increasingly beleaguered internationally, Shanghai, once named Paris of the East, has gradually developed into a global cultural capital, based on a growing cluster of cultural institutions that are keen to exhibit local and foreign artistic talents.

Rather than being an exaggeration, this assessment reflects a long-term trend of Shanghai serving as a magnet for local and more broadly Asian collectors, such as Yiqian Liu and Budi Tek, not only to stage exhibitions based on the works they fetch from art auctions, but also leave a lasting imprint on this city in the shape of spectacular museum spaces. The Long Museum, recently celebrated as an edifice and a collection that matches New York’s Neue Gallerie and Venice’s Palazzo Grassi, announces the ambition this metropolitan center has to rival both past and present capital capitals.

This is attested to, by the year-long Shanghai Project dedicated to architecture, that the Hymalayas Museum hosts. Rather than being purely theoretical or artistic in nature, this biennial-like project, curated among others by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, opens a discussion about urban sustainability, community engagement and art biennials’ purpose. Seen more broadly, this burgeoning of Shanghai’s cultural and artistic scene reflects the shift of the global power to East Asia. In terms of the art world, this especially applies to China that this year eclipsed the United States as the leading location of art auction activity.

While the global art  establishment is still adjusting to this momentous shift, Shanghai’s hot spots, such as the West Bund district, already attract flocks of top-of-the-line galleries, curators and artists.

 


Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Shanghai as the Global Capital of Contemporary Art," in Sociology, Modernity, Art, November 22, 2016, http://sma.hypotheses.org/89.

Singapore as a Rising Cultural Capital of the Asian-Pacific Region

In a recent feature article at The Financial Times, Georgina Adam traces the transformation of Singapore from a marshy island at the margin of world’s affairs into one of the richest countries around the globe. However, this transformation into an economic powerhouse has become accompanied with a growing cultural stature only since the late 1990s, when a rather lackluster local artistic scene numbering a few museums and galleries embarked upon a development course that has made Singapore into a global arts hub this city-state has presently become.

Nowadays, Singapore hosts two art fairs, several gallery clusters, such as the Gillman barracks area, and an art biennial inaugurated in 2006. These initiatives are joined by art courses at local universities, privately-sponsored cultural platforms, and a dense schedule of public art-related events. No wonder that Singapore has become a site where international artistic contacts are forged, such as Platform funded by the Lohia Foundation. Add to this a growing roster of art prizes with glitzy ceremonies, international shows, and  media attention and it becomes evident that the buzz around Singapore as an up-and-coming art hub of the East, South-East and Far East Asia is firmly rooted in an increasingly attractive local cultural scene. With a growing government backing for local museums and a brad new national art gallery to open its doors in the coming months,  it is easy to see why Singapore has become a natural spot for other spectacular cultural initiatives, such as Singapore-Chinese Cultural Center, that are slated to set up their shop in the near future.

This indicates an upwards cultural development dynamics of Singapore as not only regional but also an increasingly global art hub, where local and international collectors, curators and artists mingle. With its comprehensive investment into cultural infrastructure, development planning, and event circuits, Singapore seems to be reconnected to its age-old history as a cultural cross-roads between East and West, China and India, and South and North.


Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Singapore as a Rising Cultural Capital of the Asian-Pacific Region," in Sociology, Modernity, Art, March 15, 2015, http://sma.hypotheses.org/80.