Arabic Knowledge Production On Ancient Egyptian Literature

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The essay argues that Eurocentric modernity continues to impact how ancient Egyptian language and literature is experienced, researched, and taught in Arabic-speaking Egypt as a direct result of its colonial history. It explores some reasons and justifications for the omission of Egyptian Egyptologists from the century-long formation and evolution of ancient Egyptian literary and linguistic studies. This hegemonic approach still causes intellectual suffering for those who were/are colonized. The essay seeks to deploy analytical approaches from the Arabic literary tradition to decolonize the overwhelming and illogical divorce between linguistic and literary studies. A comparative reading of ancient Egyptian literary devices provides the grounds for a further argument, which concerns more broadly the ways in which scholars should approach the literary devices of ancient Egyptian texts, and opens the door to previously unexplored literary and linguistic approaches. The aim of this essay is to investigate the possibility of offering a new and a closer textual reading of ancient Egyptian literary devices, based on Arabic balāghah methodology (literally, eloquence, and roughly translated as poetics). This comparative approach demonstrates that Arabic scholarship can reclaim a respected space in the knowledge production that re/defines the cultural heritage of ancient Middle Eastern literature(s). The essay calls upon Euro-American and Arab academics to endorse various methodologies of “intellectual decolonization” in order to avoid reinscribing the long-established Eurocentric elements of coloniality and to invest more deliberate efforts in helping ancient Middle Eastern literary cultures to speak for themselves without any impositions rooted in Eurocentrism or Arabocentrism.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInterventions
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Arabic Poetics
  • Arabic as a sacred language
  • Arabic loanwords
  • History of Egyptology
  • Postcolonial theory in literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology

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