[R6337] Modern Coptic Studies? Tracing the Contours of a Field, in Egypt and Beyond

Created by Heather J. Sharkey
Monday, 11/29/21 2:00 pm

SUMMARY:

In the past decade, scholarship on modern Egyptian Christian communities has entered a period of vitality, as historians, anthropologists, musicologists, political scientists, and others have brought fresh attention to bear on the subject. Within Egypt, studies have focused on villages and towns, as well as on Cairo and Alexandria, and on interactions among Christians, Muslims, and others in places like schools, streets, and workplaces. On global stages, studies have focused on migrants and their descendants who came from Egypt but settled abroad, especially in Anglophone countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia. The goal of our roundtable is to discuss how we should chart the contours of this developing field, which departs sharply from older patterns of Coptic ecclesiastical and church history and from Egyptology, while also focusing more attention on ordinary practitioners (“laypeople”), as opposed to clerics. Important questions, and challenges, arise. If we call this field of Coptic studies “modern”, to what timeframe are we referring? Does or should Coptic studies have a hegemonic and explicitly Egyptian, Coptic Orthodox character that overshadows other Orthodox communities, for example, of Greeks, Syrians, and Ethiopians? And how well can Coptic studies accommodate Protestants and Catholics, including people of Egyptian backgrounds whose families left Coptic Orthodoxy via conversion? Does the term “modern Coptic Studies” implicitly privilege religion and belief while sidelining non-believers and the “unfaithful”? Does it also diminish the significance of other kinds of belonging, such as to the nation (Egypt) or to particular places (suggesting place loyalty, for example, to a town like Assiut or to a newly adopted city, like Toronto or Amsterdam)? How are digital cultures transforming communities? Finally, is the ostensibly more neutral phrase “Egyptian Christian” too narrow as well, implying a nativistic Egyptianness that may occlude other Christians of Egypt, such as Greeks before the 1950s and now people of Sudanese background, many of whom arrived in Egypt as refugees from the 1980s onward? This roundtable will draw together scholars from fields of history, anthropology, and religious studies to debate these issues and to survey the contours of a field as it expands.

DISCIPLINES:

Hist

DESCRIPTIONS OR SUMMARY:

MEMBERS:

Heather J. Sharkey

(University of Pennsylvania)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;
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Weston Bland

(University of Pennsylvania)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mirna Wasef

(University of California-San Diego)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Gaétan Du Roy

(Radboud University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Hiroko Miyokawa

(Tokyo Univ of Foreign Studies)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;
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Ramy Marcos

(Hartford Seminary)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Matija Miličić

(Radboud University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;