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About Egypopcult

Can television shows, cinema, comics, advertising, or genre fiction literature become sources of study at the service of the academic researcher in the Humanities?

This question is applied in our project to the specific case of Ancient Egypt, whose recreations in the so-called popular culture are abundant. The subject is still under discussion, and in the past three last decades alone, significant changes have begun to emerge, contributing to the promotion of cultural reception studies in the field of Egyptology.

This exploratory project aims to promote these studies by creating a space for multidisciplinary scientific debate and exchange. This collaborative initiative will be channelled through the creation of a database and a scientific network, both unparalleled, which can be used as an essential source for future research nationally and internationally. It also seeks to provide new approaches to the multiple recreations of Ancient Egypt in contemporary popular culture.

During the project implementation period, team members and collaborators will be responsible for entering information on popular culture works that refer, explicitly or implicitly, to Egyptian civilisation. In addition, the IT platform will allow the exchange between organisers and users in order to continuously supply it with new content and comments. At the same time, the transversal analysis of these and other documental and visual sources will be essential to organise training courses and

conferences, and publish a collective monograph.

The project’s plan and methodologies are grounded on the interdisciplinarity inherent to Digital Humanities, which will develop here on two fronts:

(1) the construction of a data analysis infrastructure,

(2) the digital dissemination of its results in a public domain website, the publication of an open-access book, and the organisation and participation in other dissemination activities, such as a hybrid training course.

Is this project interesting and necessary for the current research in Egyptology? The study of popular culture and its implications for the Humanities – and Egyptology, in particular – has great potential due to the scant attention academia has given it so far. Firstly, academic research on reception has been dominated by the processing of isolated and significant Egyptian civilisation leitmotifs, mainly mummies, pyramids, the figure of Cleopatra, and some objects from Tutankhamun’s tomb. For the analysis of these leitmotifs, researchers have exclusively drawn on literature, mainly Anglo-Saxon literature from the turn of the 20th century, and on classic Hollywood epic cinema, while more recent productions and media such as comics, movies, the Internet, or advertising have been ignored. Secondly, most sources refer exclusively to the reception of Ancient Egypt in Western civilisation, ignoring other cultural spheres. In today’s globalised world, one of the main contributions of this project would be to identify other forms of Egyptian reception in popular culture.

Another element of interest in this project is that popular culture offers a view of the Egyptian past from the present, not so much in terms of its history as in terms of its main cultural manifestations. Therefore, it involves the author’s subjectivity regarding each work and its historical context. Contemporaneity thus has a decisive influence on the elaboration of new images of Egypt and the Egyptian in popular culture, bringing together traditional visions and their reworking on an

ideological, political, and religious level from the standpoint of the present. Therefore, the meanings given to Egyptianised leitmotifs or narratives in recent popular culture are by no means static, not even in the case of the most common ones, such as the pyramids or the mummies mentioned above. Therefore, we seek to use this vast amount of documents to offer reflections on the current world and its problems: the role of women, post-colonial schemes of domination, transhumanism…

To carry out this research, the team is multidisciplinary, made up mainly of experts in Egyptology, but also literature, art history and audiovisual communication, from American and European universities widely recognised for their excellence, which highlights the fully international vocation of this project. The team is also intergenerational, with research experience in different research topics and used to working together – a guarantee of interoperability and good communication.


Project Manager

Abraham I. Fernández Pichel

Researchers

Abraham I. Fernández Pichel - Rogério Sousa - Eleanor Dobson - Filip Taterka - Guillermo Juberías Gracia - José das Candeias Sales
Nuno Simões Rodrigues - Samuel Fernández-Pichel - Sara Woodward - Tara Sewell-Lasater - Thomas Gamelin – Leire Olabarría
Alfonso Álvarez-Ossorio - Jean-Guillaume Olette-Pelletier - Marc Orriols-Llonch


egypopcult.lisboa@gmail.com

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The Egypopcult Project is hosted by the Center for History of the University of Lisbon.