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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Negative picture of Nuer boys relaxing (Evans-Prtichard, ca. 1930)

How to disentangle the conflictive logics of cultural and ethnic diversity? How to understand the complexity of cultural diversity? These questions lead my research (and projects) in Sudan and Ethiopian borderlands. I have studied diversity through the angle of heritage-making policies. Heritage is  a byproduct of modernity.  Studying heritage-making, i.e. understanding the value and the role actors as well as local population assert to heritage while  institutionalising it, enables the researcher to apprehend  narratives of culture, identity and diversity developed by local insiders and outsiders. Thus, one can understand how the diverse and ofter opposed groups perceive each other and how their mutual reflective perception defines the limits of identity.  However, drawing on this reflection,  identities appear to be caught in dynamic and moveable nexus rather than tight clusters.

Influenced by Alfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal research on failures of modernity in extreme borderlands and Fredrik Barth‘s work on boundaries of ethnicity, I carried out fieldwork research in Gambella region, on the  border with Ethiopia and Sudan in January-February 2008. Below is presented one of the first outcomes of this research as proposed to the AEGIS-ECAS conference in Leipzig, 2009 in the panel Writing the Oral: the building of history and the notions of ‘past’ and ‘present’ convened by Manuela Palmeirim and Manuel João Ramos.

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