Orientalism, the Classics and Egypt IV, or why you must be in Aswan on April 16

Orientalism, the Classics and Egypt IV, or why you must be in Aswan on April 16

Will you (or are you searching for the perfect excuse to) be in Egypt this Spring? Do please come and join us on April 16 at the AASTMT’s College of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage in Aswan for the fourth Orientalism, the Classics and Egypt (OCE) day-long workshop. This year’s event will focus on the entanglements between imperialism, archaeology, and heritage. We promise a day of energising debate and hilariously-awful stories about colonial scholarship, as well as a supportive, collegiate atmosphere, for scholars at all stages of their career. The speakers and titles are listed below, together with a description of the OCE workshop series. Full details of the programme and venue will be announced closer to the time. This will be a bilingual event, in Arabic and English, with translation available.

Katherine Blouin, Usama Ali Gad, Monica Hanna, and Rachel Mairs

Speakers and titles:

Dr Heba Abd el Gawad, University College of London, UK: Whose Ancient Egypt? Modern Egypt and it’s Dispersed Ancient Heritage

Dr Ahmed al-Antably, The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Egypt: The Use and Misuse of Media in Historical Narratives

Dr Katherine Blouin, University of Toronto, Canada: Colonial Aphasia and the Historiographical Myth of the Foundation of Alexandria

Dr Monica Hanna, The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Egypt: Androcentrism and Colonialism

Dr Zena Kamash, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK: Rebalancing Roman Archaeology: From Disciplinary Inertia to Decolonial and Inclusive Action

Dr Daniele Salvoldi, The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Egypt: Archaeology, the Obsession for Gold and Identity in the 19th Century

The event is free and open to all: We would be very grateful if those planning on attending the event could rsvp via the event’s facebook page, or else by emailing Katherine Blouin at katherine.blouin@utoronto.ca.

About the OCE workshop series:

The concept of Orientalism was developed by the literary scholar Edward Said who, in his seminal work Orientalism (1978), defined it as “the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient – dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it : in short, Orientalism [is] a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient”. Said’s Orientalism dedicates only a minimal space to ancient history. His short discussions of Aeschylus’s Persians, Euripides’ Bacchae and Herodotus’ Histories (p.21, 56-58) are meant to root Orientalist representations in the ancient Greek world. Said’s superficial treatment of this important topic represents a weakness within his work. Yet this alone cannot explain why, if we exclude the field of reception studies, his concept and the scholarly debates it triggered have so far had a much more limited impact on the work of historians of the ancient Mediterranean than they have on other disciplines within the Humanities and Social Sciences. This phenomenon must be understood as the symptom of a belated engagement with (if not a certain resistance to) postcolonial theory within the field and, as Phiroze Vasunia pointed out regarding Classics, of its “failure to acknowledge [its] colonial genealogy”[1]. Nevertheless, the relevance of Orientalism to the study of ancient Mediterranean history expresses itself on two, interconnected levels that have profound socio-cultural implications: Our understanding of ancient imperialisms and dynamics of “Othering”; our grasp of the interconnectedness of modern historiography, imperialism, and modern identity-making. While things are slowly starting to change, a great deal of work remains to be done.

More than forty years after the release of Orientalism, this Egypt-based yearly workshop aims to bring together scholars from the Middle East, Europe, and North America, in order to reflect on the many ways in which Orientalism has shaped the field of “Classics” and its relationship to Egypt’s territory, history, and heritage.

This year’s event is made possible through the generous support of The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

[1] Vasunia, Ph. 2003, “Hellenism and Empire: Reading Edward Said”, Parallax, 9 (4), 88-97.

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