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.
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!
In this episode, Joseph Youssef (PhD candidate in Anthropology, University of Toronto) kindly shares his history and his experiences with us, as an Egyptian immigrant to Toronto and an anthropologist of Coptic monasticism in Egypt and its diasporas. His fascinating research sheds light on the pitfalls of mythologizing and romanticizing monks. Rather, as he argues, we must understand their humanity and appreciate how modernization continues to affect their spiritual lives.
In part 2, our guests begin with the contested topics of Coptic identity and the political involvement of Coptic populations in Egypt, Canada, and the United States. They then delve into the challenges of emotion and subjectivity in conducting fieldwork, the obligation of scholars to become engaged in ongoing violence against Egypt's Coptic communities, and the effects of such developments on the collection of data and access to research materials in Egypt and its diaspora. Candace and Michael conclude by offering advice to those interested in pursuing similar research.