Since its inception as a nation-state in 1970, Oman’s expanding heritage industry—exemplified by the boom in museums, exhibitions, cultural festivals, and the restoration of more than one hundred forts, castles, and citadels—fashions a distinctly national geography and a territorial imaginary. Material forms of old mosques, restored forts, museumified living settlements, and national symbols such as the coffee pot or dagger saturate the landscape and become increasingly ubiquitous as part of a public memorialization of the past. Material forms, and their circulation through institutional techniques of education and mass publicity, assume a repetitive aesthetic pedagogy that cultivates everyday civic virtues, new modes of religiosity and forms of marking time, defining the ethical actions necessary to become an Omani modern through the framework of tradition. Heritage is approached here not merely for its ability to instill ideologies, thus downgrading its truth to a function of state power and manipulation, but for its potential to shape the perceptual habits, emotional affects, and ethical sensibilities of its audience.


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pp. 16-29
Launched on MUSE
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