From July 13-16, St Athanasius College (SAC) and the University of Divinity (UD) co-hosted an international symposium themed COPTS IN MODERNITY in Melbourne, Australia. The symposium focused on the history of the Coptic Church and community between the 18th and 21st centuries. Below are my thoughts, and some highlights. of the discussions we shared day-to-day.
On Friday March 2nd, 2018 scholars of Modern Coptic Studies gathered at the University of Pennsylvania to discuss the state of the field and new directions in historical and ethnographic research around Copts in Egypt and its diasporas. Briefly, I would like to highlight some points that struck me as central to current discussions around Modern Coptic Studies and its future. These points are not exclusive to Modern Coptic Studies, but are also integral to larger debates around religious difference, secularism, and minorities.
While it is often the case that researchers, journalists, and visitors would be interested in going to the visible places of worship during St. Mary’s time (i.e. the official parishes), I was eventually driven to other invisible spaces that, paradoxically, are very important for the Copts. Building on Miray Philip’s photo essay about urban places of worship, my story aims to shed light on less visible places where Copts navigate their aspirations, pressures, and desires.
Welcome back for part 2 of Coptic Canadian Women Discuss. Join Meray Metias and her friends as they tackle how they navigate their gender within the Church; how they negotiate their multiple identities within family, community, and social circles; and, they share their thoughts on how Coptic churches can maintain a relationship with Coptic Canadian youth. At the heart of their stories of adaptation, lay a common inter-generational struggle as immigrants and their children work to strike a balance between two worlds.
Welcome to a very special episode of the Coptic Canadian History Project's Podcast. At the CCHP, we promote the history and collective memory of 'ordinary' Coptic Canadians. As such, we are delighted to bring you a conversation between five female university students about their experiences in Toronto's Coptic communities. In this two-part episode, CCHP assistant Meray Metias facilitates the conversation; as she and her friends discuss the varied experiences of navigating family, education, church, and social relations.
Religious buildings in Egypt tell a complex and rich history of religious life. A once thriving cosmopolitan country, Egypt was home to its local Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities. It also became a site of refuge for many (im)migrant communities, such as Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, and others. The visibility of religious buildings belonging to various faith communities evoke a sense of nostalgia of a perceived pluralistic past.
In the summer of 2016, I left Alexandria for Toronto. I was excited. But, it was a bitter-sweet excitement. I packed my entire room and left life-long friends for a whole new city; a whole new country on a whole new continent. I wanted to come. I had already taken that step and made my decision. My mom didn't want me to go, but I was insistent. It hurt, but I wanted to come.
We hope you find this discussion educational and are motivated to help preserve the history and heritage of your communities for future generations. Archival preservation offers many benefits to you, your family, your community, your city, and to our collective understanding of diverse immigrant communities that have, and continue to contribute to these many places we now call 'home.'
My story is not unique. Identities are complex, constantly changing, morphing to our circumstances. They can anchor us to a glorified past or romanticized national experiences we have no tangible connections to. They are built up, torn down and put together in varied ways, by diverse people. They are formed, reformed and deconstructed. Perhaps the only constant is that identities are never constant.
Fieldwork is expensive. It's imperative to do extensive research long before booking a flight, hotel, and embarking on that delightful journey to Egypt. If this will be your first trip, I have compiled a few tips and tricks to get you started. If you're a veteran at this, perhaps some of these could save you time and money. Happy Holidays!