Cultural Preservation in a Saudi Domestic Environment in the Eastern Province

Aljamea, M. 2018. Cultural Preservation in a Saudi Domestic Environment in the Eastern Province. PhD thesis University of Westminster Architecture

TitleCultural Preservation in a Saudi Domestic Environment in the Eastern Province
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsAljamea, M.

This study constructs new understandings regarding the impact of the transformations that have taken place in the domestic environment of Saudi Arabia following the discovery of oil. While most previous research in this area has highlighted the loss of identity caused by this transformation, my research reveals how these developments have also resulted in new modes of cultural preservation in a domestic environment. It also explores the significant role of private museum making as a network of cultural practices that reflect and preserve Saudi culture for future generations.

Despite the high price of land for housing and construction materials, some individuals in Saudi society have invested their savings to collect and preserve traditional artefacts in private museums in their homes. Through analysis of a number of such examples in the Eastern Province, with an in-depth study of one, this research explores the relationship between cultural practice, cultural preservation and resilience, and interprets this from an architecture perspective. Framed by a set of key theoretical concepts (cultural trauma, cultural resilience and cultural preservation), this study aims to highlight the positive cultural adaptation of domestic environments after the rapid transformation brought about by the discovery of oil. An in-depth qualitative case study provides an example of how a resident transformed an imported, villa style residence to reflect her identity, religion, culture, and past experience and how, through a practice of museum making in her home, not only translated her memories, identity, tangible and intangible heritage into a museum, but also gave herself new agency in public life. This research offers fresh perspective and insight into the role of women as social influencers and explores their creative ability in cultural preservation.

These findings fill a knowledge gap in the study of home interiors and cultural preservation, explained with reference to two intersecting perspectives: the transformation of the national discourse on heritage and the transformation of the role of women on Saudi society. It also shows evidence of the shift that occurred from the oil boom in 1938 to the museum boom in 2014. This research explores and identifies the Private Museum Movement (PMM), defining it as: an individual’s attempt to preserve Saudi cultural heritage through the practice of museum-making within their private home.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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