The “personality cult” problematic: Personalism and mosques memorializing the “father of the nation” in Turkmenistan and the UAE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article analyzes the role of mosques dedicated to the “father of the nation” under two personalistic authoritarian systems: Saparmurat Niyazov in Turkmenistan and Sheikh Zayed in the United Arab Emirates (uae). Critiquing “cult of personality” narratives as Orientalist and analytically weak, I emphasize the constructed nature of charisma, asking how such personalistic regimes produce the image of a coherent figurehead-and to what end. As a discursive device, the personalistic leader-as-icon appears in a range of authoritarian regimes, and it is materially inscribed in the symbolic landscapes to create the impression of unity among elites and the masses. To illustrate how this works, I draw on research in Turkmenistan and the uae from 2012 through 2014, including landscape analysis of two mosques memorializing the countries' founding fathers: the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque in the outskirts of Ashgabat, and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-359
Number of pages30
JournalCentral Asian Affairs
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Authoritarianism
  • Charisma
  • Cult of personality
  • Mosques
  • Nationalism
  • Personalism
  • Symbolic landscapes
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The “personality cult” problematic: Personalism and mosques memorializing the “father of the nation” in Turkmenistan and the UAE'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this