Friday, 7 October 2011

The Modern Neighbours of Tutankamun - new book about Qurna village

Really excited about this new book by Kees van der Spek about Qurna village. Regularly readers will remember the controversy surrounding the removal of the villagers from the hillside. This book tells their story. It will be available on Amazon US and AUC in Cairo

AUC Press—Publisher’s synopsis

A historical–anthropological study of the people who lived in the antiquities precinct of Luxor’s West Bank Until their recent demolition, the colorful mud-brick hamlets of al-Qurna village, situated among the Noble Tombs of the Theban Necropolis on the Luxor West Bank, were home to a vibrant community. Inhabiting a place of intensive Egyptological research for over two centuries, it was inevitable that Qurnawis should become part of the history of Egyptology and the development of archaeological practice in the Theban Necropolis. But they have mostly been regarded as laborers for the excavation teams or dealers in the illicit antiquities trade. The modern people inhabiting the ancient burial grounds have themselves rarely been considered. By demonstrating the multiplicity of economic activities that are carried out in al-Qurna, this study counters the villagers’ stereotypical representation as tomb robbers, and restores an understanding of who they are as people living their lives in the shadow of valued cultural heritage.

Author’s Bio

KEES VAN DER SPEK is an independent scholar who lives and works in Canberra, Australia. He received his doctorate in political science and international relations in 2005 from the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University for his historical–anthropological study of the Luxor west bank community of al-Qurna, where he conducted ethnographic fieldwork during 1997, 1998, 1999, and, most recently, in 2009.


“Egypt's most famous ancient site contains a village where for hundreds of years a local community has lived and worked among the monuments. This book tells the story of this village for the first time. It offers a compelling account of the struggle, survival, and eventual dispossession of a people living precariously amid Egypt's ancient past.”
—Timothy Mitchell, Columbia University

“Kees van der Spek’s study of the Qurnawi, their close ties to Egyptology, and the effects that bureaucrats who believe theme park tourism will be the answer to Egypt’s economic problems have had on their lives, offers an important lesson for anyone concerned with protecting humankind’s patrimony and planning for Egypt’s future.”
—from the Foreword by Kent R. Weeks

“Van der Spek employs a wide range of analytical approaches with a sure touch. Even literary theory, into which many scholars sink incoherently, is made to serve clearly functional purposes in this well-written book. Readers who know little or nothing about Qurna will be effectively introduced to that unique village and its people; those who are familiar with it will find many more dimensions and subtleties than they ever expected; and those who regret its tragic loss will have this remarkable study to remember it.”
—Jason Thompson, author of A History of Egypt from Earliest Times to the Present

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