The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day Two - Pharonic Material Culture, National Identity, and the Marketing of A Political Image'

The Blogger Returns!

Right, chaps, sorry about that rather extended break in proceedings. Let's get back onto it now.

Ash, one of our distance learners, presents a really interesting discussion upon the way in which modern Egyptians use and value Pharonic material culture, including both ancient artefacts and sites and modern reconstructions. Presenting us with a rapid slideshow of images of Ancient Egypt, he asks us to consider how they make us feel and what we might do with them. The rapidity with which he does this is intended to mimic the saturation that a modern Egyptian experiences in regard to this material.

The word 'Pharonic' has a number of connotations. It was a culture that was ancient even whilst it still existed, and retains a pivotal position in the minds of living human beings. As the proverb goes, 'Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids.' These people transcended time and death through their material culture, and thus it is no wonder that it has such an extensive impact upon our lives.

Ash will be looking more specifically at the impact of these artefacts upon three groups in modern Egypt, the peasents, the Coptic Christians and those termed 'the Power Elite' - that is, those in political control. Finding out the differences - and perhaps similarities - between these groups use of the material is the objective for Ash's multisited ethnographic approach. Particularly with a set of material such as this, the research will, I think, throw up some very interesting results, and could well be extended into historical studies of the use of Egyptian cultural items througout the ages, and perhaps cross culturally into their use in the world outside Egypt today.

He also makes an interesting point that throughout much of these artefacts, women, the disabled and other groups more marginalised during other periods of history, are treated with respect and equality. Fascinating how so many current 'social justice issues' are very much a product of the rather recent past.

Thanks Ash - looking forward to more!

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