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Return to Alexandria
An Ethnography of Cultural Heritage Revivalism and Museum Memory
Beverley Butler (Author)
299 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Nov, 2007
Paperback (978-1-59874-191-9)
Hardback (978-1-59874-190-2)
eBook (978-1-61132-605-5)
eBook Rental - 180 Days (978-1-61132-605-5)
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  - Critical Cultural Heritage Series
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    Archaeology Publications

Related Interest
  - African & African Diaspora Studies
  - Archaeology
  - Cultural Studies & the Arts
  - Heritage Management and Heritage Studies
  - Museum Studies & Practice

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was launched with great fanfare in the 1990s, a project of UNESCO and the Egyptian government to recreate the glory of the Alexandria Library and Museion of the ancient
"This is an exciting and challenging book on heritage revivalism and cultural memory, which draws on a range of theoretical and philosophical approaches to tease apart the complex story surrounding the resurrection of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt. With this important work we learn much about how heritage projects are marketed to different audiences and how they are framed to suit particular agendas. As Butler shows, a highly complex set of diplomatic entanglements and bureaucratic networks define the dynamic of revivalism. Bibliotheca Alexandrina was a perfect case study for exploring these issues; however, one hopes that Butler might apply her same level of scrutiny and perception to the phenomenon that is Stonehenge. "

- Stephanie Moser, Public Archaeology

"Beverley Butler’s Return to Alexandria is a fine-grained analysis of what happens when the 30-year dream of reviving a beacon of universal learning becomes a reality… Return to Alexandria is an ambitious study, by a clever and extremely well-read museologist whom Neal Ascherson hails as a worthy successor to no less than Edward Said. "

- Madeleine Hummler, Antiquity

"A tremendous piece of work. I would think it is destined to become a classic. It is a powerful analysis of the multiple conflicting forces through which culture is produced. This book establishes a new direction for museum studies."

- Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, University of Leicester

"Return to Alexandria is an outstanding, utterly original achievement. Beverley Butler has not merely provided the missing case-study which shows finally how 'revivalism' works. In her rare combination of reportage, theoretical discussion and often witty analysis, she also brings together almost for the first time the successive 'Western' treatments of the past with the whole discourse of post-colonial culture. "

- Neal Ascherson, author, journalist and editor of the journal Public Archaeology

world. The project and its timing were curious—it coincided with scholarship moving away from the dominance of the western tradition; it privileged Alexandria’s Greek heritage over 1500 years of Islamic scholarship; and it established an island for the cultural elite in an urban slum. Beverley Butler’s ethnography of the project explores these contradictions, as well as the challenges faced by Egyptian and international scholars in overcoming them. Her critique of the underlying foundational concepts and values behind the Library is of equal importance, a nuanced postcolonial examination of memory, cultural revival, and homecoming. In this she draws upon a wide array of thinkers: Freud, Derrida, Said, and Bernal, among others. Butler’s book will be of great value to museologists, historians, archaeologists, cultural scholars, and heritage professionals.

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