Whose Pharaohs?

Whose Pharaohs? : Archaeology, Museums and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to World War I

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Egypt's rich and celebrated ancient past has served many causes throughout history - in both Egypt and the West. Concentrating on the era from Napoleon's conquest and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone to the outbreak of World War I, this book examines the evolution of Egyptian archaeology in the context of Western imperialism and nascent Egyptian nationalism. Traditionally, histories of Egyptian archaeology have celebrated Western discoverers such as Champollion, Mariette, Maspero, and Petrie, while slighting Rifaa al-Tahtawi, Ahmad Kamal, and other Egyptians. This exceptionally well-illustrated and well-researched book writes Egyptians into the history of archaeology and museums in their own country and shows how changing perceptions of the past helped shape ideas of modern national identity.Drawing from rich archival sources in Egypt, the United Kingdom, and France, and from little-known Arabic publications, Reid discusses previously neglected topics in both scholarly Egyptology and the popular 'Egyptomania' displayed in world's fairs and Orientalist painting and photography. He also examines the link between archaeology and the rise of the modern tourist industry. This richly detailed narrative discusses not only Western and Egyptian perceptions of pharaonic history and archaeology but also perceptions of Egypt's Greco-Roman, Coptic, and Islamic eras. Throughout this book, Reid demonstrates how the emergence of archaeology affected the interests and self-perceptions of modern Egyptians. In addition to uncovering a wealth of significant new material on the history of archaeology and museums in Egypt, Reid provides a fascinating window on questions of cultural heritage - how it is perceived, constructed, claimed, and contested.

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  • Hardback | 424 pages
  • 158.5 x 235.7 x 33.8mm | 830.09g
  • 12 Feb 2002
  • University of California Press
  • Berkerley
  • English
  • 46 b&w photographs, 2 maps, 14 tables
  • 0520221974
  • 9780520221970

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Author Information

Donald Malcolm Reid is Professor of History at Georgia State University and author of Cairo University and the Making of Modern Egypt (1990), Lawyers and Politics in the Arab World, 1880-1960 (1981), and The Odyssey of Farah Antun: A Syrian Christian's Quest for Secularism (1975).

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Review quote

"Illuminates such . . . themes as the shaping of national ideologies, the political relevance of transnational scholarship and the Orientalism debate, and the role of tourism in international relations. . . . [Reid's] is a balanced account with empathy for all. An accomplished narrative historian, [he] manages to make massive detail compelling reading."--"Foreign Affairs"

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