Bringing gender back onto the agenda in Egyptology

It was a unique opportunity when a group of Egyptologists came together for the second collaborative workshop on Gender Studies and Egyptology at the Centre for Gender Research in Oslo.


Anthropological and critical feminist theory can be helpful as analaytical tools when exploring the compositional hierarchy, to reassess and recast assumed epistomological paradigms. Photo: wikipedia

The 20th of January, the Centre for Gender Research at the University of Oslo, hosted the second collaborative workshop on Gender Studies and Egyptology. The workshop was intended as a continuation of a conversation commenced at Oxford University in the summer of 2017. Together, the four participants represent a new wave, or moment of academic interest in both Gender and Egyptology.

Exploring possibilities

In the first edition of this event, based at the University of Oxford in summer 2017, four Egyptologists working with gender had the chance to discuss their research in an informal and engaging atmosphere. This experience was beneficial not only for our individual projects, but also for exploring the possibilities in the study of gender in Egyptology, revisiting previous Egyptological scholarship and pointing out new trends for both Egyptology and Gender Studies. 

Investigating gender relations

This second workshop combined a variety of topics: kinship, women’s representation in funerary iconography, temples and the representation of goddesses and queens, and domestic space and spatial analyses. These topics are associated with the investigation of gender relations in ancient Egypt, using gender as a relational category of analysis.

Noting the developments in our research since our first meeting helped us to re-frame and re-adjust our theoretical and methodological perspectives. The multiple sources investigated and various approaches to ancient Egyptian data allowed us to re-evaluate to what extent gender can be explored as a relational framework, a category that only exists in a relationship, to investigate social life, highlighting the potential of Gender Studies in the investigation of ancient Egyptian society.

Egytologists in Oslo
Second collaborative workshop in Oslo: Reinert Skumsnes, Thais Rocha da Silva, Edward Scrivens and Ellen Jones. Photo: private

Bringing gender back onto the agenda

The discussion was both stimulating and rewarding, and we decided that another workshop would be beneficial for everyone. We think that our discussions have great potential, particularly since Egyptology has been slow to incorporate scholarship from other disciplines. The incorporation of more recent theoretical approaches from Anthropology and Gender studies, for example, is important for re-assessing ancient Egyptian data, offering a less biased and polarized perspective on gender relations. In a way, this collaboration is an opportunity to bring gender back onto the Egyptological agenda.

Unique opportunity

It must be added that it is a rare and unique opportunity in academia to put a group of Egyptologists together who each study different datasets but at the same time share a deep understanding of Gender Studies and Anthropology, and the potential these disciplines have for developing and improving Egyptology. We feel extremely privileged to be part of this collaboration. 

By Thais Rocha da Silva and Reinert Skumsnes
Published Feb. 19, 2018 9:29 AM - Last modified June 24, 2019 10:58 AM