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 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.
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 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.
My family and I immigrated to Toronto, Ontario in September 1994. I was two-months shy of my sixth birthday when we left our second-floor apartment in Alexandria and drove south to Cairo International Airport. I vaguely remember growing up on Roushdy Street, playing with friends in the alley between our neighboring buildings, and being able to glimpse the Mediterranean ocean from our balcony on a clear morning.