Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Ancient Egyptians for Dummies
(2007)

RATING:40%
FORMAT:Book



Apart from not explaining where the culture and civilization of ancient Egypt came from in Africa; that is, what pre-existing people it resembled, this book fails to get much beyond the White Western historical perspective of its author.

Ancient Egypt is presented as an African miracle; almost spontaneously sprouting as the world’s alleged first civilization. Western Egyptologists have a problem placing ancient Egypt firmly within the context of what came before despite the existence of similar civilizations further south that predated it. One can only suspect the racism of White Egyptologists unwilling to admit any Black undertaking to be worthwhile.

Worse than this, the book is written to interest modern Western readers in the practices of an ancient culture by comparing and contrasting them with us. This leads us to assume that anything the ancient Egyptians did that we find strange today is objectively strange; while anything they did that we find acceptable is objectively rational. These cultural assumptions are never mentioned in the book’s Foolish Assumptions section; representing a cultural chauvinism that tells us more about ourselves than it does about them, despite this book not being called Modern Westerners for Dummies. (Indeed, no such book exists precisely because no author can be found to interrogate their own prejudices sufficiently to justify its existence.)

Black Egyptologists tend to understand a Black culture better than White ones since some aspects of ancient and modern are identical and can be better explained to a modern audience from that cultural perspective. The White author here is quite incapable of removing herself from her own observations about people she simultaneously claims have strange practices and yet are just like us! Whatever happened to objective history, erudition and true learning is tacitly expressed in this volume that never rises above the level of an undergraduate thesis.

If you are a dummy this book tell you much about yourself that you already knew, if not, then steer clear. To accurately study a foreign culture one has to go at least a little bit native, but this author is fascinated by ancient Egypt yet lacks the empathy, compassion and respect to ever truly understand it.


Copyright © 2013 Frank TALKER. Permission granted to reproduce and distribute it in any format; provided that mention of the author’s Weblog (http://whitespeak.blogspot.com/) is included: E-mail notification requested. All other rights reserved.

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