Although a new month started yesterday, we wish hereby to make some comments on a couple of events that took place or concerned us in February:
1. Now, perhaps we could open this set of comments with a reference to the closing of our photo exhibition “From Nubia to Sudan through the eyes of the Greek-Norwegian Archaeological Mission“, but since after the marvelous days at the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art, we will also be hosted elsewhere (venue to be announced very soon!), we would like to refer to another exhibition, the latest of one of our preferred photographers, namely Yannis Skoulas.
It took place in the premises of Black Duck Multiplarte in Athens between the 7th and the 27th of February and all the friends who visited described the quality of Yannis’ photographic work dealing with Choreography (which was also the title of the exhibition) as good as the highest quality paintings one could imagine…
Yannis has presented his work in numerous venues in Greece, Norway, and Sudan, and his exhibition “En Sydlig Tur Mot Nord” will hopefully be brought to Norway in 2013 by the Organization for Greek-Norwegian Cooperation in Culture and Humanities.
Perhaps the former will be moved to another section of the museum and samples of the latter will find place in the study-exhibits’ drawers that were still empty during our visit, but our observations confirm that – irrespectively of the improvement in the display esthetics – Nubia is perceived in the Ashmolean as an exhibition topic relating to the ancient civilization of Egypt, thus leaving the modern Nubian communities in a historical vacuum, since they are not connected to the past through the continuity that so much characterizes their history, and they can, therefore, be easily forgotten in a present that might have no future given the threat of the new dams to be built all along the Middle Nile Valley…
3. The exhibition we visited in Manchester is coming to a close in March, but the activities concerning the physical anthropology studies of the ancient inhabitants of the Middle Nile Valley continue to attract a lot of attention. So, there is already a Conference on the Paleopathology in Egypt and Nubia organized at the Natural History Museum in London in the end of August; and a lot of advertisement was also given on the Net to the studies at the Michigan State University of the skeletal material from the excavations of the Sudan Archaeological Research Society in the frame of the Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project.
A particular dimension of the researches conducted at Michigan State University is of special interest to the Medieval Sai Project: traumas that can be linked to the violence exercised upon the Medieval Christian population of the island of Mis in the Fourth Cataract – from where the material mainly comes from – by invading Muslim hordes, who in the 15th century are suggested to have islamized the Christian inhabitants of the region. An intriguing suggestion, both to its dating and to its significance for the cultural history of northern Sudan; and one surely worth comparing with cases of trauma found in populations of the Early Christian period (cfr. Brenda Baker, “Post-Meroitic to Early Christian Period Mortuary Activity at Ginefab”, in Gratien B. (ed.), Actes de la 4e Conference Internationale sur l’Archéologie de la 4e Cataracte du Nil, Supplement CRIPEL 7 (2008): 217-224) and that may be identified as signs of a violent Christianization process. On both ends of this story, we hope that in the coming years our work on Sai Island will provide very useful insights.
4. Another topic that seems to attract the attention of a new generation of researchers is the revisiting of the material excavated during the Aswan campaign and still remaining unpublished. It is not only our contribution to the study of the monastery of Qasr el Wizz, but also a new project initiated by the University of Sapienza in Rome concerning the archaeology, art, epigraphy, and conservation of the church at Sonqi Tino.
On the 21st of February, a day Conference was organized and we are looking forward to seeing the results published.
5. Last but not least, just as the month of February was coming to an end we received the Call for Papers for the 9th International Sudan Studies Conference, organized at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany. Here it follows:
“Identity, Economy, Power Relations and External Interests: Old and New Challenges for Sudan and South Sudan”
Sudan has profoundly changed in recent years. In 2011, two Sudans emerged from Africa’s longest conflict. The separation of South Sudan as the African continent’s newest nation has been accompanied by many issues and consequences affecting the entire region. This conference proposes to examine the changing identities, economic and power relationships and external interests that characterize the Sudans as they enter a new era. The conference will open with an emphasis on identity, especially issues of gender, citizenship, integration, history, memory and the geographical challenges of the separation. Its second day will be devoted to economic issues, particularly economic development prospects, urbanization and social transformation in Sudan and South Sudan and issues regarding oil, water and other resources. The conference’s final day will examine both internal and external power relationships including Sudan-South Sudan relations, old and new conflicts, party formation and strategic and security issues.
This conference seeks to reflect on recent work, open up new discussion and encourage future research. We expect to bring together scholars working in different disciplines to extend the body of authoritative knowledge on the two Sudans. With this in mind, we invite scholars to contribute theoretically innovative and empirically grounded papers, panels, round tables, thematic conversations and other presentations that might enhance our understanding of the conference’s theme. The tradition of SSA conferences is to give priority in timing and prominence to papers addressing the conference’s theme, but papers on all other Sudanese topics are also most welcome. Abstracts of proposed papers, panels and roundtables (please, limit to 150-200 words) should be sent by 31 March 2012 to Dr. Elke Grawert, who can be reached by email at: email@example.com. A preliminary program will be announced in May. Late proposals will be considered only if space is available. Proposals and paper abstracts submitted earlier will receive preferential treatment in scheduling. Acceptance for presentation will depend on the quality of the abstract in the judgment of the program committee. Registration and conference fees must be paid before presenters will be placed in the formal conference program. Some small stipends may be available for assistance to a limited number of students who are members of the SSSUK. Interested persons should contact the Treasurer, Adrian Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about registration and a hotel list will be made available on the SSA and SSSUK homepages on 15 March.
Early-bird registration starts 1st of April and ends 30th of May. Fees: €60.
Registration from 1st of June to 25th of July: Fees: €80, students: €50.
Reimbursement of tickets and accommodation costs for presenters of papers coming from Africa will be according to availability of funds / sponsoring. Information will be put on the BICC homepage as soon as available.