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Creating Nubia: How Colonialism, Tourism, and Archaeology Made a Region, a Past, and a People

William Carruthers, Lecturer in Heritage Studies, University of Essex
Thursday, October 19, 2023
5:00-6:30 PM
Gallery Hatcher Graduate Library Map
Thursday, October 19, 2023
5:00-6:30 p.m.; reception and gallery exhibit opening to follow
Hatcher Library Gallery (in-person only)

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the building and heightening of the Aswan Dam under the oversight of British engineers (and, later, Egyptian capital) radically altered the relationship of the region of Nubia to Egypt. Flooding Nubian settlements and causing the population to move their homes higher up the banks of the Nile, the dam’s increasingly high floodwaters constituted Nubia within imaginaries of (ancient) Egypt itself. I will illustrate how the imbrication of imperial engineering, national development, and archaeological survey created a region in which contemporary population became disaggregated from ancient past and touristic gaze shaped all in its image. As a result, during the 1960s—and this time under the auspices of UNESCO—archaeological and preservationist intervention again took place as construction of the Aswan High Dam began and Nubia flooded further: not only in newly independent Egypt, but also on the other side of the border in the one-time Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. That work not only rested on earlier colonial intervention, but also made possible the elision of Nubians from the cross-border region, perhaps forever.
William Carruthers is a Lecturer in Heritage Studies at the University of Essex.
He holds a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge and earlier degrees in archaeology from UCL. William has held postdoctoral fellowships from, among others, the Leverhulme Trust and the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. He is the author of "Flooded Pasts: UNESCO, Nubia, and the Recolonization of Archaeology," published in 2022 by Cornell University Press. He is also the editor of various journal special issues and the book "Histories of Egyptology: Interdisciplinary Measures," published by Routledge in 2014.
Sponsored by Narrating Nubia, the Humanities Collaboratory, and the Department of Anthropology
Building: Hatcher Graduate Library
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: AEM Featured, Africa, Anthropology, Humanities
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Anthropology, University Library, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology