Amer Abd El Hameed

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Helwan U.

Grant number

Gr. 10483

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Abd El Hameed, Amany (Helwan U.) "Untold Stories of Egyptian Labor in the Penn Museum Archives: Labor regimes, the Postcolonial state, and Neoliberal Heritage Management"

The history of the archaeological site of Abydos is rich not only with archaeological discoveries but also has a long history of excavations, which utilized hundreds, potentially thousands of Egyptian men and boys to dig, shape, fill and condition the site that we see today. This project seeks to address the history of archaeological labor at Abydos during the postcolonial era, through a multimodal examination of the Penn Museum excavations (1967 – present). Recently accessioned archival material at the Penn Museum will be used to explore how Egyptian labor has enabled and constrained the production of Abydos as a contemporary heritage site. Further, I seek to demonstrate how heritage management projects at Abydos have often failed to address or actively suppressed the contributions of local Egyptian labor, and how revealing the ‘hidden’ histories of Egyptian labor might impact the development of future heritage management at Abydos, as the site seeks World Heritage status. Finally, the Penn Museum’s long engagement with Abydos provides an interesting lens for tracing the place of archaeology in developing postcolonial labor regimes, the politics of international co-operation, and the contestation between independent postcolonial states and neo-imperial interests.