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Return to Alexandria : An Ethnography of Cultural Heritage Revivalism and Museum Memory - Beverley Butler

Return to Alexandria

An Ethnography of Cultural Heritage Revivalism and Museum Memory

Paperback Published: 30th June 2010
ISBN: 9781598741919
Number Of Pages: 299

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The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was launched with great fanfare in the 1990s, a project of UNESCO and the Egyptian government to recreate the glory of the Alexandria Library and Museion of the ancient world. The project and its timing were curious—it coincided with scholarship moving away from the dominance of the western tradition; it privileged Alexandria’s Greek heritage over 1500 years of Islamic scholarship; and it established an island for the cultural elite in an urban slum. Beverley Butler’s ethnography of the project explores these contradictions, and the challenges faced by Egyptian and international scholars in overcoming them. Her critique of the underlying foundational concepts and values behind the Library is of equal importance, a nuanced postcolonial examination of memory, cultural revival, and homecoming. In this, she draws upon a wide array of thinkers: Freud, Derrida, Said, and Bernal, among others. Butler’s book will be of great value to museologists, historians, archaeologists, cultural scholars, and heritage professionals.

'Return to Alexandria is an outstanding, utterly original achievement. Beverley Butler has not merely provided the missing case-study which shows finally how 'revivalism' works. In her rare combination of reportage, theoretical discussion and often witty analysis, she also brings together almost for the first time the successive 'Western' treatments of the past with the whole discourse of post-colonial culture.' Neal Ascherson, author, journalist and editor of the journal Public Archaeology 'A tremendous piece of work. I would think it is destined to become a classic. It is a powerful analysis of the multiple conflicting forces through which culture is produced. This book establishes a new direction for museum studies.' Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, University of Leicester 'Beverley Butler's Return to Alexandria is a fine-grained analysis of what happens when the 30-year dream of reviving a beacon of universal learning becomes a reality... Return to Alexandria is an ambitious study, by a clever and extremely well-read museologist whom Neal Ascherson hails as a worthy successor to no less than Edward Said.' Antiquity

List of Illustrationsp. 7
Series Editor's Prefacep. 11
Acknowledgmentsp. 13
Introduction: Preludes - Founding Myth and Archivep. 15
The 'Alexandria Project' in the Western Imaginationp. 31
'On The Ruins': Postcolonial Heritage Metamorphosisp. 63
Contemporary Return to Alexandria: International Sacred Dramasp. 93
'Revivalism between Worlds': UNESCO and GOALp. 123
'Meltdown': Revivalism's 'Time of Anxiety'p. 157
'Spirit of Aspiration': Archaeological Revivalism and Recuperationp. 189
Urban Shock Therapy: Alexandria's 'Las Vegasisation'p. 213
Conclusion: 'Windows onto Contemporary Worlds'p. 241
Bibliographyp. 279
Indexp. 293
About the Authorp. 299
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781598741919
ISBN-10: 1598741918
Series: UCL Institute of Archaeology Critical Cultural Heritage Series
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 299
Published: 30th June 2010
Publisher: Left Coast Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.49