This past August, our team members Anwar Ali, Geoff Emberling, and Sami Elamin traveled to the University of Warsaw for the 15th International Conference for Nubian Studies to present their paper “The Complexity of Collaboration in Postcolonial Archaeology: The Community Heritage Center at El-Kurru.” Anwar wrote the following about his experience:
On August 26th I had my first experience flying outside Sudan. Part of what made the trip interesting was just looking at some beautiful scenes and streets in Europe, and the wonderful statue of Nicolaus Copernicus (who was from Poland) in front of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
There was also this factor of excitement about representing my community by contributing to presenting a paper at the conference along with my colleagues and friends, Geoff Emberling and Sami Elamin.
Our paper was “The Complexity of Collaboration in Postcolonial Archaeology: The Community Heritage Center at El-Kurru.” The paper discussed changes that happened in the practices of archaeology in Sudan from colonial times until more collaborative projects started in 2013.
In my opinion, from the perspective of local communities, archaeology is becoming a much more positive activity.
The first experience was the colonial expeditions, which dealt with the community as an important working force that should be silent. Besides interpreting archaeological discoveries according to self-interest.
The second is a positive experience with the Michigan-Copenhagen team that worked in a respectful manner in dealing with the village inhabitants by living inside the village and providing many educational lectures about the archeological site and many other steps to approach the community. In addition to that, the continuous quest to build the community center despite the financial and other competitors’ obstacles.
This conference experience provided me with valuable information about projects going on in Sudan that I had never heard about, not even in the news. It surprised me to see that certain missions were studying historical periods in Sudan’s history that had been overlooked or ignored for a long time, such as the three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makouria, and Alodia.
After thinking about this trip to Warsaw for a while, I realized that I liked the idea of conferences because they allow you to learn how other colleges solved problems and share your own solutions. The debates between archaeologists were the most fascinating to me.