Here is the very beginning of a (short) article (in French) that has just been published in Qantara, Magazine des cultures arabes et méditerranéennes of the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris.

Cet article fait partie d’un dossier spécial “Patrimoine antique, le regard des Arabes“. Coordonné par François Zabbal, ce dossier analyse le transformation du regard porté sur les antiquités gréco-romaines dans le monde arabe. Observée depuis une décennie, cette transformation semble s’accélérer avec le “printemps arabe”. Loin des considérations politiques du moment? Peut-être pas, car il s’agit d’observer comment les identités collectives se font et se défont.

The Arch of Marcus Aurelius as a cinema, 1911

The Arch of Marcus Aurelius as a cinema, 1911

Un arc aux objets encombrants

Elevé au IIe siècle, l’arc de triomphe de Marc Aurèle règne au coeur de la médina de Tripoli de Libye. Ranimé voici un siècle par le colonisatur italien, qui en fit le symbole de la romanité glorieuse, il est à l’inverse tout juste toléré depuis l’instauration du régime de Khadafi, victime de la décolonisation de l’histoire nationale entreprise par le colonel. Mais peut-on occulter l’Histoire en la passant sous silence?

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My article  on Sudanese museums and  politics of identity in the transitional period 2005-2011 published in Egypte-Monde Arabe 5-6 (2009) on Heritage-Politics in Egypt and Sudan is now available on line on revues.org along with the rest of the book.

This article is part of the chapter 3: Politicisation and instrumentalization of Heritage in Sudan. This topic was investigated for the first time. The chapter comprises resourceful contributions of Iris Seri-Hersh (Iremam, Aix-en-Provence) on the recurrent use of the narratives of the Mahdiya in Sudanese politics, Ida Dykorn Heierland (Bergen University) on the political and economic use of archeological heritage in Naqa, Coralie Gradel (SFDAS, Khartoum) on the involvement of Lille III University in Sudanese archaeological research since the 1950’s and Constanza de Simone (UNESCO, Cairo) on the projected museum in Wadi Halfa.

Existing and planned museums in Sudan. ©Jean-Gabriel Leturcq, 2009

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On the 7th of October 2009, the French Culture minister  announced the Musée du Louvre would return to the Egyptian authorities five  fresco fragments   supposedly stolen from a tomb in the Kings’ Valley (Louxor). Why did it break the news?

Egyptian officials and the returned hair of Ramses IIThe issue is not really new. Since the early 2000’s, the problem of cultural property have gained visibility and  became a  source of diplomatic and political conflict. Two opposite positions are confronting. On one hand, institutions in archaeological-source countries claim for the right to be returned, rapatriated or restituted “their” “looted” artifacts as part of the national heritage. On the other hand, 18 museums from antiquities-importing countries have signed the Declaration of the importance and Value of Universal Museums (2002) stating the artifacts in their collections do not belong to a  nation in particular but to the entire Humanity. As both arguments can be considered as valid, it results  in a deadlock situation such as in the case of the Parthenon/Elgin Marble whose property is claimed at the same time by Greek authorities and the British Museum.

The new thing about this recent return is that the Louvre is one of the museums that signed the 2002 Declaration. For the first time, one of those museums agrees in such a short time (less than two weeks) to return the claimed pieces… without negociating any condition. How was it possible?

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This is the power point of my presentation to the Centro de Estudos Africanos da Universidade do Porto (CEUAP -Porto) conference of the 2nd – 3rd of October 2008:

Water in Africa: hydro-optimism or hydro-pessimism?

Here is my abstract:

Panel Session: LARGE DAMS IN AFRICA: CASE-STUDIES

Introduction

Large dams’ construction is back in Africa. This paper analyses the frictions between potential economic benefits generated by large-scale dams and the social and cultural impacts, for the specific case of the Merowe Dam in the Nile River, Northern Sudan. This paper focuses on the controversies surrounding the Merowe Dam planning and construction (2002-2008 ) and its impacts on society and culture. The friction between different visions of development will be analysed in order to assess the prospects of an equitable socio-economic development related to large-scale dams’ projects, an ideal hydro-optimistic vision.

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