The Gallery of Paleontology at the National Museum Of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa was officially opened on 3rd of December hence celebrating the 40th anniversary of Lucy’s discovery. I managed this project from November 2011 to August 2014, while at the French Center for Ethiopian Studies.

View of the Gallery Read the rest of this entry »

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On Friday 24 January 2014, the Cairo Museum of Islamic Art was severely damaged in a suicide car bomb attack that might have targeted the nearby State Security premises. The extent of the damages on artefacts is still unknown but reports describe the “indescribable” destruction of the building and display re-inaugurated in 2010 as many of the glass window panes were shattered as a result of the blast. It seems the museum was not a primary target but a collateral victim of a wave of terrorist attacks on the eve of the third anniversary of the 25 January Revolution due to its location.

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The Cairo Museum of Islamic Art is a unique institution because of its very location in the Middle East, in the land of Orientalism. This location questions the reciprocity of the East-West relation of Orientalism: Can displaying Arab art in an Arab country constitute an “oriental” answer to Orientalism?  Read the rest of this entry »

The newest of the Louvre galleries has opened this week: Islamic Art is now displayed in a marvel of architecture. Does Display (re)invent Islamic Art? This article examines how Islamic Art as an academic field was invented at the turn of the 20th century as it was being exhibited  in Paris, Munich or London. It analyses the French connection in the invention of Islamic art and reflects on the political meaning of exhibiting Islamic Art in a post-9/11 context and the Orientalist tradition: unveiling the Louvre veil on Islamic art.

The first islamic Art display at the Louvre: Delort de Gléon room, Pavillon de l’horloge, 1921

That article was published (in French) in Qantara, the cultural magazine of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris), #82, winter 2012. The issue was dedicated to the Invention of Islamic Art.

Musée du Louvre, Department of Islamic Art, Mario Bellini & Rudy Ricciott architects, 2012

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What is the meaning of an Ethnographic Museum in a post-colonial world in which boundaries between the Self and the Other are in a constant evolution? If the Self and the Other are a reflective myth, the Museum is a privileged machinery to construct the representation of Alterity, of Otherness.

Savignac, "Allez au Musée de l'Homme", Affiche, 1981, DR

The Museum orders, screenplays and formalises the re-presentation of the World. Therefore, the Museum appears a effective place to study the history of the representations of Others as in the case of the transformation of the old Paris’ Musée de l’Homme into the new unfortunate Musée du Quai Branly. [On the Quai Branly’s vicissitudes, refer to Kimmelman’s brilliant article: “Heart of Darkness in the City of Light“, New York Times, July 2 2006]

This book review [in French] of Benoît de l’Estoile’s, the Taste of Others [Le goût des Autres*] provides a chance to discuss the role of Anthropology and the Museum in the reprensentation of Alterity. Commenting on the book’s argument also provides an insight that reconsiders the role of anthropologists and intellectuals in the social and political debates on multiculturalism.

Anticipating on the conclusions and on further articles (to come here, stay tuned), I think that this book offered a good example of a certain school of Museum Studies that hardly consider museums as a research subject but as an object: the study of discourses about the museum overdetermines the topic of Otherness. Museum considered as a discourse is a powerful means to understand non said representations and give sense to nonsensical cultural discourses.

* Note: Le goût des autres / The Taste of Others: this is a literal translation as to keep on playing with the reference to Agnès Jaoui’s 2000 film on the experience of multiculturalism in France. As a complementary reading on the same topic, here’s a reference to Sally Price’s excellent Paris Primitive: Jacques’s Chirac Museum at the Quai Branly, Chicago, 2007… [here’s a book review in French].

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Forthcoming…

July 18, 2009

What’s on the shelf right now?

Cairo july 2009
Cairo july 2009

I got busy lately and disapeared from the outside world. I canceled all my spring conferences but in my underground office, it’s sprouting!
I’m finishing my PhD dissertation (still): I wrote the parts on the Unesco/Egypt/Sudan Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia. I took a move from the official catechism of International (generous) cooperation… it’s all about politics, business and diplomacy… at the very end, it’s about culture. It rocks! More will be published here, soon.

I’m following Farouk Hosni‘s Campaign for the Unesco’s head job. It’s more interesting than a Ramadan musalsal (telenovela, feuilleton). This campaign is much about talking (normalisation, no normalisation with Israel, etc.),  much about diplomacy, so few on Unesco, on culture, science and education… I’m planning to publish something before the election round in September 2009.

I’m also finishing the editing process of next issue of the Cedej Journal Egypte/Monde Arabe on heritage-making policies in Egypt and Sudan. To be released after Ramadan in October (insha’Allah), we are planning to publish simultaneously a paper and a digital edition!  Keep updated!

I’m looking for a job: my plans to get a research position in Sudan are postponed. I don’t give up with working on heritage, identity and violence. I’m already dreaming  of a postdoc somewhere else. I will have to explain all this here, soon.

What else?

You can still email me (leturcq[at]ehess.fr): I love to reply emails! Or send me a postcard from your holidays… I wish a nice summer to all! Don’t forget to visit museums, sites and ask for more exhibitions all over the world !!*

This is a powerpoint presentation of a conference supposed to be given at the British University in Cairo, Faculty of Architectural engineering in November 2008. The conference was unfortunately canceled.

The goal was to sensibilise young architects to the problematics of museum-making. I was describing the process as a reflective process: considering the stakeholders, the collections, the public targetted and the political context.