Amy Zhang

Amy Zhang

Amy Zhang

Graduate Lecturer

Museums, globalization and art, art and political economy, sociology of culture, museum studies, critical theory, art theory, art historiography, Arab States of the Persian Gulf

Amy Zhang is a Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies. She received an MA in Liberal Studies from The New School for Social Research and a BA in Philosophy and BFA in Art History from The University of Texas. 

Her dissertation applies content and discourse analysis to Euro-American journalism and art commentary that evaluate art museums in the Arabian Peninsula.  Using these museums and their reception as cases, she explores the construction and maintenance of legitimacy in the contemporary fine art world.  Considering that legitimacy in the art world is largely constructed through recognition and confirmation according to social status, it should come as no surprise that art museums in the Arabian Peninsula are established according to western European conventions and with largely Western expertise.  The question that arises then is: how is the legitimacy of these museums evaluated?

Her analysis outlines shared dynamics experienced by relatively new non-western actors and institutions as they engage with the established social world of the fine arts: one that emerged predominantly from Western European intellectual cultures and which has also, in various ways, attempted to revise and correct its Eurocentric heritage.  This dissertation contends that through attempting to clarify their evaluations of art museums in the Arabian Peninsula, media reception symptomatically establishes Western unease with the globalization process; and reflects inherent tensions within the fine arts in the Western tradition. 

Since joining the Ph.D. program in Cultural Studies in 2014, she has continuously taught courses in the School of Integrative Studies, Honors College, and in the Cultural Studies program.

Before coming to George Mason University, she was a fellow of the India-China Institute's India China Knowledge and Initiative Building Program, where she undertook a collaborative ethnographic research project comparing the management of cultural heritage in the performing arts in Yunnan, China and West Bengal, India. 

Her dissertation research has been supported by the Office of the Provost Summer Research Fellowship, twice supported by the Interdisciplinary Curriculum Collaborative Award, and she has advanced her Arabic language training as a Davis Fellow at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.


The New School for Social Research, Liberal Studies, MA

The University of Texas at Austin, Art History, BFA; Philosophy, BA