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"W. E. B. Du Bois, a new voice in Egyptology’s disciplinary history" by Egyptologist Vanessa Davies

My dear friend Vanessa Davies, Ph.D., is an Egyptologist whose research centers on hieroglyphic texts and art, as well as the modern disciplinary history of Egyptology. She is the author of Peace in Ancient Egypt and the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Egyptian Epigraphy and Palaeography. Her work publishing archaeological material that had been excavated between 1903 and 1905 from the site of Naga ed-Deir is forthcoming. Currently, she is writing a book on conversations between white Egyptologists who held university positions in the US and Europe and scholars of African descent in the US.

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Vanessa sent me her published article, in which I found very interesting. So much so, that I decided to share a small clip from the article:


"The nature of history is deceptive. Although history announces that it is merely looking backwards to the past, its capacity to uplift or degrade derives from its inevitable reflection of the present. History can be written either « liberation [or] enslavement. » 1 Those who are powerful in the present see themselves as heirs to the great cultures of antiquity, owners of those legacies. Those who are hopeless, adrift, or oppressed in the present use that same legacy to inspire a conception of the self at odds with hopelessness and oppression. A particular history reflects the interests and focuses of the author-historian, as well as that author’s conscious and unconscious views, perspectives, and opinions. John Henrik Clarke perceived that « Europeans and white people in general » use history as a tool of control.2 More recently, Maghan Keita wrote about control of a historical narrative in terms of academic gatekeeping, or as he put it, « who has the right, who is privileged, to participate in the construction of both history and knowledge. » 3 By manipulating history — deciding what stories are told and what stories are not told — the historian influences people’s perceptions of themselves and one another. The way to neutralize the bias of the authorhistorian is to bring multiple perspectives into a history, to make a central part of the narrative voices that have traditionally been marginalized, trivialized, and pushed to the periphery, to make that history more inclusive. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 - August 27, 1963) knew the power of history and its potential to bias. He wrote more inclusive histories to uplift people. Du Bois was a great American humanist, or « radical humanist » as Reiland Rabaka referred to him, someone who worked to achieve « racial, gender, economic, and social justice » for all people.4 Du Bois saw the terrible social and economic conditions that people of African descent in the United States endured in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He turned to the history of Africa to show Americans that African heritage was much more than the slavery and oppression that people of African descent in America faced. Du Bois’s work on African history was psychologically empowering and also intellectually subversive. Not only was African history not widely known in America at that time, but some authors even asserted that Africa had no history. The wiping away of the history of an entire continent’s people was not simple ignorance but was calculated to contribute to the dehumanization of people of color. Du Bois sought to restore humanity to people of African descent by educating Americans about the history of Africa and the present conditions that people of African descent lived in America with the aim of changing the future. People of African descent would forge new futures for themselves aided by an understanding of their past and the psychological uplift that was communicated through it. He tied awareness of the past with a sense of self-worth in the present. Americans’ lack of knowledge of African history was, he thought, the reason for the lack of « hope in the past for present aspiration, or any apparent justification in demanding equal rights and opportunity for Negroes as average human beings. » 5 In his analysis of the construction of ancient Egyptian history, Du Bois, as Cheikh Anta Diop, Theophile Obenga, St. Clair Drake, and many others would later do, recognized the particular biases held by many Egyptologists of the early and mid-twentieth century, and he engaged with their work.6 St. Clair Drake noted that its « interpretation is always carried out from some socially conditioned perspective. The basic data have been gathered by professional Egyptologists, and their ethnic and racial biases are often evident in the presentation and analysis of results.» 7 The same charge levied against the writing of ancient history can be applied to the writing of the disciplinary history of Egyptology. The history of Egyptology, as it is currently written, completely ignores the voices of people of African descent. To put it in Du Boisian terms, Egyptology has a color line problem."


Ms. Davies has made various appearances and lectures on the fallacy of early Egyptology. I admire her passion to correct the Eurocentric Ancient Egyptian narrative along with her colleague, Shomarka Keita. I also want to take this time to shout out Dr. Sally-Ann Ashton, Robert Bauval, Prof. Kevin MacDonald, Sekhem Divine, Dr. Louis Henry Gates, Baba Eng, Rene Thompson, Sonya Rice and all the many supporters pushing forward the true African origins of Kemet (Ancient Egypt).

"We must restore the Truth!"


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