What do we do when the EES pioneers we admire were also looters, racists, and white supremacists? 

"When Nasser and Heba met Petrie" comic-strip part of the "Nasser, Heba, and our Dispersed Heritage" Egyptian Arabic comic series released bi-weekly by Egyptian comic artist Mohammed Nasser (Nasser Junior) and the Egypt's Dispersed Heritage project engaging Egyptian audiences with the history of the British collection and distribution of artefacts from Egypt to the world.

The history of the Egypt Exploration Society is full of Egyptian archaeology “pioneers” who were also racist, prejudiced, and exploitive. Amelia Edwards was both a heritage crowd-funding trail blazer and a self-confessed colonial looter. William Matthew Flinders Petrie was the Father of Egyptology’s scientific methods and a Eugenicist white supremacist. Today, as confronting the legacies of colonialism should be a marker of ethical practice, how then should we acknowledge and address the EES’ colonial history? How can we hold the EES “pioneers” accountable? What impact do their acts have on today’s Egypt and its heritage? Are we complicit?

Join us in this participatory online discussion as we question the history of the Egypt Exploration Society and seek your answers on how best we can emotionally, ethically, and practically confront it together.

Register in advance using the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Webinars have a limited attendance capacity, so please only sign up if you’re confident that you can attend.

TIMING: Please note that this event is scheduled for Friday 12th June, 5-6:30pm (UK) / 6-7:30pm (Egypt)


Egyptian Egyptologist Heba Abd el Gawad is the postdoctoral researcher for ‘Egypt’s Dispersed Heritage: Views from Egypt’ (see below). She has previously held various curatorial roles in the UK including co-curating Two Temple Place’s 2016 ‘Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt’ exhibition, project curator of the British Museum’s Asyut Project, and more recently has guest curated ‘Listen to her! Turning up the Volume on Egypt’s Ordinary Women’ exhibition at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. She specialises in the history of Egyptian archaeology focusing on the modern Egyptian perceptions and representations of the collection and distribution of archaeological finds from Egypt to the world.

Stephanie Boonstra is the Collections Manager at the Egypt Exploration Society and recently curated the new ‘Life and Death in Ancient Egypt’ gallery at New Walk Museum in Leicester.

Carl Graves (Chair) is current Director of the Egypt Exploration Society but was formerly the Society’s archivist.

Egypt’s Dispersed Heritage: Views from Egypt

Led by Alice Stevenson and Heba Abd el Gawad (University College of London), this AHRC funded project aims to amplify the voice, visibility, and validity of modern Egyptian communities in ancient Egyptian collections at UK museums. You can follow their work online here and on Twitter @excavatedegypt

A recent interview with Heba and project’s partner Egyptian comic artist Mohammed Nasser (Nasser Junior) by Digital Hammurabi, ‘Who Owns the Past? Egypt's Dispersed Heritage’ can be found on their YouTube channel here.

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