Visualizing a monumental past: Archeology, Nasser’s Egypt, and the early Cold War
History of Science
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Carruthers, W. (2017). Visualizing a monumental past: Archeology, Nasser’s Egypt, and the early Cold War. History of Science, 55 (3), 273-301. https://doi.org/10.1177/0073275316681800
This article examines geographies of decolonization and the Cold War through a case study in the making of archeological knowledge. The article focuses on an archeological dig that took place in Egypt in the period between the July 1952 Free Officers’ coup and the 1956 Suez crisis. Making use of the notion of the ‘boundary object’, this article demonstrates how the excavation of ancient Egyptian remains at the site of Mit Rahina helped to constitute Nasserist revolutionary modernity and its relationship to wider, post-Second World War political geographies. The dig took place as a result of an Egyptian–American collaboration designed to institute the possibility of archeology taking place along the lines of the Point Four modernization program promoted by the United States. The article discusses how this situation not only engendered contention surrounding the role of the international ‘experts’ appointed to run this excavation work, but also – and as a result – helped to constitute the monumental visual and material shape that archeological evidence relating to the Egyptian past could now take. Egypt’s revolution sat within wider Cold War political struggles, yet the ‘ground-up’ realities of this relationship helped to constitute the sort of past (and future) monumentality proposed by Nasser’s government.
history of archeology, history of the field sciences, boundary objects, monuments, architecture, stratigraphy, Egyptian archeology, decolonization, Cold War, history of Egypt
Funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. Extra research funding was provided by Darwin College (University of Cambridge), the German Academic Exchange Service, the H. M. Chadwick Fund (University of Cambridge), and the Royal Historical Society, and I drafted the paper as a European Commission-funded Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History and Civilization at the European University Institute, Florence.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0073275316681800
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/262323