Decolonizing the Shopping Mall: A Reading of Spaces within the United Arab Emirates
Keywords:Shopping Malls, United Arab Emirates, Henri Lefevbre, Marc Augé, Decolonization, West and Rest, Modernity, Hegemony
Does it make sense to speak of a ‘reading’ of space? If so, what implication does that have on our experience of said space once a reading is complete and to what extent would this reading hinder or strengthen the individual or community? A reading of space has become a crucial tool in global affairs and multinational internet culture. Such a tool would allow for critiquing and dissecting unidentifiable power relations within spaces then redirecting the social production of identity and hegemony. One such discourse can be of Western cultural hegemony. This paper will begin by defining the theoretical framework that will then be used to illustrate and analyze a given space. The space chosen will be shopping malls in the United Arab Emirates, specifically their food courts and restaurants, as this nation is situated geographically in a non-Western region. A Content Analysis of the websites of the malls selected in the capital, Abu Dhabi, will illustrate the physical literal construction of this space. An analysis of these theories and illustrations about the space will aid in a debate on shopping mall restaurants' implications on identity and Western cultural hegemony. It will be concluded that a reading of space is a crucial tool to demystify the reality of Western influence on Eastern social and cultural development, ultimately critiquing the production of such spaces in order to decolonize the region.
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