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Paul Christians

paul christians

Paul Christians

Research Interests: 
cultural heritage, expertise/experts, transnationalism and new nationalisms, distributive politics, post-neoliberalism, labor, migration, development, knowledge production, cultural conservation, history and anthropology, after postcolonialism, after cosmopolitanism, ethics, studying up; Qatar, Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Middle East


I'm interested in the political economy of cultural heritage and the anthropology of expertise. What makes an expert? The Gulf nation of Qatar has declared preserving culture critical to its national survival. Heritage professionals build Qatar's national identity and international prestige by curating museums, conducting excavations, developing community projects, and producing knowledge. Yet most of those working in its cultural industry are non-citizen guests, not Qataris. I use anthropological and historical analysis of this transnational heritage system to explore broader questions of why and how we come to trust experts—or not—in our interconnected world. My research is informed by fifteen years of work in cultural heritage, archaeology, and museums in the US, Middle East, and Arabian Peninsula. I hold an MA from the University of Chicago (Anthropology, 2006) as well as a BA and BS from Calvin College (History and Archaeology, Biochemistry, 2003).