Sunday, February 27, 2011

We've been here before

Times Higher Education (Christina Riggs)

Christina Riggs is a lecturer in the School of World Art Studies and Museology, University of East Anglia. She suggests, in this article, that the Western academic community was quick to mourn damage to Egypt's heritage whilst ignoring its own role in altering that heritage in the past.

Three gilded wooden statues of Tutankhamen are among the objects reported to be damaged or missing from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, following an alleged break-in on the night of 28 January. Reports from Cairo have been uneven - several objects have been listed as broken, then fine, then missing, then found - but given the circumstances in Egypt these past weeks, that's not so surprising.

What is surprising is the response from the academic community, which has focused on objects rather than politics, as if the two can be separated. "Heartbreaking", "a catastrophe", "shameful", laments the blogosphere - but with little mention of protests or people, much less the history of Western involvement in Egyptian archaeology.

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