Egypt: the nearly distant land

Sarah Nagaty, a egyptian research, talks with three Portuguese residents about their shared love for Ancient Egypt.
Sarah Nagaty 19 dec 2022 20 min

Of everywhere I have been, it is only in Portugal that I have encountered absolute amazement upon telling people: ‘I am Egyptian’. In their minds, I am associated with Ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs. This fascination simultaneously puts me both at a distance from and in close connection with others. Fascination creates distance. You are from the far away, mysterious land. You are out of the ordinary. The proximity has to do with the link to Judeo-Christian tradition and with an immense interest in Ancient Egypt, one of the greatest stories of human progress, and of nation-building. This makes people feel that they know you or that they know of you.

Ancient Egypt is thousands of years old. Many languages, successive religions, and customs, separate present day Egyptians from their ancestors. Being linked to Ancient Egypt left me with more questions than answers: What is the nature of this connection? And what does it mean to be Egyptian if the concept of Egyptianness from the 19th century onwards has been inspired by Arabism?

Those questions inspired me to explore my Egypt and alongside three other Egypt(s) I have encountered in Portugal. They belong to: Bruno, an architect; Isabel Rute, a security worker; and Juliana, a jeweler.

Technical Info

Text – Sarah Nagaty – Researcher of Cultural Studies and independent curator
Participants – Bruno Alves, Juliana Bezerra, Isabel Santos
Video and edition – João Hipólito, Artur Machado, Miguel Morais
Translation – André Moda

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