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Birmingham Egyptology

Forum: Influences on Egyptology – is it all about money?

The Forum discussion on the 2nd May was entitled ‘Influences on Egyptology, from antiquity until the present day’. The issue which dominated the discussion was that of money – selling one’s work (in book form), gaining a job, obtaining support for excavation, and so on, all have some sort of financial element. Essentially, one might say that in most cases the way research is undertaken is influenced by financial pressures, in that a researcher is likely to write a particular way in order to meet specifications for a grant, make a book  attractive to the non-specialist public, or engage with a theory which is championed by a particular institution at which there is a vacancy, for example. This may (but not always, of course!) be at the expense of accuracy, depth, or understanding of the source material.

 

Thus, the Forum highlighted that money was a strong influence upon Egyptology (and historical/other disciplines in general) and has always been; even historians and commentators in antiquity had to make their work appealing to potential buyers. It must also be borne in mind that academia has traditionally been seen as an elite vocation – in previous centuries scholars came from affluent backgrounds. Nowadays, the Higher Education system (and beyond) is of course much more accessible, but the monetary element is still present. Whilst the ability to enter academia used to hinge on one’s financial and social position, today students from many backgrounds can enter HE, and progress onward. Nonetheless, the fees must be paid, a job must be procured and funding must be applied for. Aside from the influences this might have on research as discussed during the Forum, there is also a more basic problem in that worrying about money can have a negative impact on mental well-being, affecting productivity and self-confidence, thereby also affecting quality of research.

 

The full report of this Forum session can currently be found on the ‘Last Session’ section of this website (http://birminghamegyptology.co.uk/forum/last-session/) , under the ‘Forum’ tab. It will be moved to ‘Previous Sessions’ in a few weeks’ time, where past reports can also be found (http://birminghamegyptology.co.uk/forum/previous-sessions/). We welcome comments on any of the topics discussed, and all are free to attend any of the future sessions. Please email us at enquiries@birminghamegyptology.co.uk if you have any questions.

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