This article examines the working lives of creative-class professionals in the Global South using two case studies: university educators and museum professionals employed in Qatar. A small country on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar is an ideal site for the study of professionals in a developing yet authoritarian nation. We argue that the cultural attributes of the professorial and curatorial communities, including creativity, autonomy, and intellectual freedom, are in conflict with the authoritarian political context, giving rise to professional dissonance. Professional dissonance occurs when the norms, values, and ideas embraced by a particular occupational group conflict with the norms, values, and ideas in the settings in which they work. To cope, university educators and museum professionals turn to five strategies—resistance, subversion, submission, conversion, and exit—although variations in the content and institutional structures of their work lead each group to deploy them in somewhat different ways. These strategies may be replicated in other contexts of high professional dissonance, caused by authoritarianism or otherwise.

You do not currently have access to this content.