Transnational identity and the Gulf crisis: Changing narratives of belonging in Qatar

Jocelyn Sage Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


What does the recent Gulf diplomatic crisis of June 2017 to January 2021 mean for the future of the region's signature transnationalism: the khalījī [Gulf] identity? This identity narrative encompasses the shared sociocultural backgrounds of the people of the region, but the unprecedented separations, caused by the regional crisis, may have shifted the discourse of belonging in the Gulf. To investigate the impact of the recent crisis on regional identity narratives, this article explores the new National Museum of Qatar's presentation of Qatar's political history from 1848 to 1868, as well as museum-goers' reactions to this presentation, through original fieldwork and ethnographic interviews with Qatari and expatriate residents. The analysis highlights the museum's purposeful portrayal of parallels between intra-Gulf conflicts of the past and the recent crisis, a presentational choice that stands in sharp contrast to previous regional norms of tactful diplomacy. Further, museum-goers recognized the linguistic and symbolic parallels, provoking both engagement with and rejection of the concept of khalījī identity. In summary, this analysis suggests that the crisis has shifted the norms of discourse in the region in ways that may make social reconciliation difficult, even as political bonds resume. As the region moves forward from crisis, policy-makers should reduce the tension between national and transnational identity narratives by creating space for the renewal of khalījī ties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-944
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • culture and politics/IR
  • domestic politics
  • Middle East
  • nationalism
  • regionalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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