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Profane Egyptologists: The Revival and Reconstruction of Ancient Egyptian Religion

Harrison, PM; (2012) Profane Egyptologists: The Revival and Reconstruction of Ancient Egyptian Religion. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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A range of culturally embedded interpretations and appropriations have left pharaonic Egypt at the centre of competing visions of its past. Despite the well-documented nature of Egypt’s broad perennial appeal, there is little analysis of the revival and reconstruction of pharaonic religion, which remains unrecognised by Egyptology, or conflated with ‘mystic’ ‘revisionist’ approaches. This doctoral research is undertaken in order to address critically this gap in Egyptological understanding of contemporary reception of pharaonic religion, challenge current conceptions of academic boundary marking, and interrogate notions of heritage and legacy that are framed within Western discourse on the ancient world. Employing a multi-sited ethnographic study, reflective of the medium of its participants, this work contributes an original database of over 40 actors (including key figures, such as temple founders and authors) located within the ‘Kemetic continuum’ of reconstructionist and revivalist practices. It critically examines responses, framing them within the contours of current Egyptological understanding, whilst remaining mindful of institutionalised positivist norms, and the hegemonic, reductionist exercise of applying theory ‘over’ findings. The project problematises current polarisations between ‘orthodox’ and ‘alternative’ approaches to Egyptian material, which were instead found to represent a continuum of responses from conservative attempts at ‘authenticity’ at one end, to less exclusive and more selective eclectic readings at the other. Curiously, when antagonising accusations of Egyptology’s own positivism, the discipline was found to be less defined, and less ‘conservative’ in its approaches to Egyptian religious material than currently conceived by ‘outsiders’ and the academy alike. Whilst it was noted that conceptions of Egyptology as a ‘hard’ positivist science are increasing, and likely inevitable, the valuable contributions from the phenomenological experiences of Kemetic practitioners are identified, where they nuance our understanding of key issues such as taboo, identity and piety through first-hand experience of agency.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Profane Egyptologists: The Revival and Reconstruction of Ancient Egyptian Religion
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1370586
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