A thread on #Egyptology and interdisciplinarity, or: Why #theory is too western, how Egyptologists can help, and why everyone needs to #decolonise.
Egyptologists and other ancient world folks will only benefit from fuller engagement with theory and the social sciences. This truth is not as universally acknowledged as it should be, but increasing numbers of us are shouting about it. However, I think the reverse is also true.
The theoretical and philosophical canon favoured by Oxford and other 'elite' institutions is overwhelmingly #eurocentric, and predominantly white. That's not to say works from those traditions aren't valuable, but it's important to note.
1/ In such contexts, we are perpetually at risk of situations in which Euro-Americans build knowledge systems-- often based upon theories formulated by other Euro-Americans-- that make universalising truth claims based on what may actually be culturally-dependent experiences...
2/...systems that simultaneously position themselves at the top of perceived hierarchies of knowledge. Eurocentric models, and the pursuit of those models, become the highest scholarly enterprise.
I think this is at best a little short-sighted, at middling-level somewhat elitist, and at worst is a form of intellectual and cultural imperialism. But make no mistake, I point the fingers squarely back at myself here.
While the study of #Egypt and its history goes back to the ancient Egyptians themselves, #colonialism is woven into the very fabric of Egyptology as a field. It dominates our past, and infuses our present.
1/ There is a great deal of valuable work that has been done in Egyptology, Philosophy, etc. by non-western and BAME scholars, both within Euro-American traditions and outside of them...
2/ Yet those voices have historically been marginalised by elite institutions, even excluded from them, in my own field and others besides. Western academic traditions are what we know, what we teach, and therefore what we trust. And so the cycles described above are perpetuated.
This is why our fields should work more closely, in a way that diversifies and decolonises. Egyptologists should be more comfortable sitting at the same table as Sociologists/Philosophers/etc., who should be keen to have us over too. Even if only for a semi-regular brunch date.
Egyptologists can gain new frameworks for interrogating our material, while our colleagues encounter perspectives from a very different historical and cultural context. By also ensuring a greater diversity of voices within those conversations, the results will be richer still.