Pyramids and Nightclubs

Pyramids and Nightclubs

L.L. WYNN
Copyright Date: 2007
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/717015
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  • Book Info
    Pyramids and Nightclubs
    Book Description:

    Living in Egypt at the turn of the millennium, cultural anthropologist L. L. Wynn was struck by the juxtapositions of Western, Gulf Arab, and Egyptian viewpoints she encountered. For some, Egypt is the land of mummies and pharaohs. For others, it is a vortex of decadence, where nightlife promises a chance to salivate over belly dancers and maybe even glimpse a movie star. Offering a new approach to ethnography,Pyramids and Nightclubsexamines cross-cultural encounters to bring to light the counterintuitive ways in which Egypt is defined.

    Guiding readers on an armchair journey that introduces us to Russian and Australian belly dancers on Nile cruise ships, Egyptian rumors about an Arab prince and his royal entourage, Saudi girls looking for a less restrictive dating scene, and other visitors to this "antique" land, Wynn uses the lens of travel and tourism to depict a fascinating and often surprising version of Egypt, while exploring the concept of stereotype itself. Tracing the history of Western and Arab fascination with Egypt through spurious hunts for lost civilizations and the new economic disparities brought about by the oil industry,Pyramids and Nightclubsultimately describes the ways in which moments of cultural contact, driven by tourism and labor migration, become eye-opening opportunities for defining self and other.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79512-9
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A NOTE ABOUT TRANSLITERATION AND NAMES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: FROM THE PYRAMIDS TO THE NIGHTCLUBS OF PYRAMIDS ROAD
    (pp. 1-27)

    Imagine two Egypts. The first is a mystical, antique land. A vast shimmering desert is bisected by a narrow strip of lush green running from south to north. Along the fringes of the fertile Nile Valley lie the ruins of ancient civilizations, more than five millennia old, whose pyramids and temples and tombs have been preserved through the centuries by the sand and the dry desert climate. Secret passages have been found in the pyramids, low crawling passageways that open out onto hidden inner chambers with empty sarcophagi. Ancient avenues are guarded by sphinxes and obelisks, sunbeams frozen in stone....

  6. CHAPTER 1 ETHICS AND METHODOLOGY OF A TRANSNATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY
    (pp. 28-41)

    There are certain methodological problems inherent in doing research on tourism (Graburn 2002). One is structural: tourists are only present for a short period of time. Western tourists might stay in Cairo for a week or two at the most; Arab tourists tend to stay longer, a month or more. Even so, a month is not the ideal length of time for really getting to know them, talking to them, and letting them speak freely—the ideals of qualitative ethnographic research. Another is the fact that tourists are taken out of their own cultural context, which makes it harder to...

  7. CHAPTER 2 BURIED TREASURE
    (pp. 42-81)

    The first time I visited the Giza pyramids was in December 1999. I had been living in Egypt for a year and a half, but I kept putting off the obligatory pilgrimage. Egyptians and foreigners alike were always shocked when they heard I hadn’t been there. What American living in Cairo didn’t go to see the pyramids? Of course, I’dseenthe pyramids—you can see them from most tall buildings in Cairo. They’re located in Giza, which is technically a separate governorate from Cairo, but by the end of the twentieth century, the two cities had merged into one...

  8. CHAPTER 3 ATLANTIS AND RED MERCURY
    (pp. 82-126)

    As soon as I got to the pyramids [this morning], Dr. Hawass gave me something to type up, so I went back into the computer room and started working. It was an article he was writing for al-Ahram newspaper. I had just sat down and written the title when Tarek came in the room and told me that there was a guy here who believed that there was something secreted away under one of the rocks of the Great Pyramid. Stone tablets with ancient writing on them. I got excited and said, “Can I be there when Dr. Zahi is...

  9. CHAPTER 4 SEX ORGIES, A MARAUDING PRINCE, AND OTHER RUMORS ABOUT GULF TOURISM
    (pp. 127-168)

    The third summer I was in Egypt, I moved from my shabby apartment in al-Mounira, near downtown Cairo, to a smaller (but blissfully air-conditioned) flat in Mohandiseen, an upscale Cairo suburb full of shops, restaurants, and fast-food joints. One morning shortly after I had moved in, I was at home writing fieldnotes on my laptop when I heard the sound of music from outside. I went over to the bedroom and opened the wooden shutters onto the small balcony. In the street below, facing the building opposite mine, were a group of three men and a little girl, about eight...

  10. CHAPTER 5 TRANSNATIONAL DATING
    (pp. 169-199)

    The Egyptian stereotype holds that Arab tourism revolves around drinking and gambling and sex and various other illicit activities. The extremely small academic literature that has reported on sex tourism in Egypt suggests the same. Karim el-Gawhary (1995), for example, has written about the extensive network of real estate agents who double as pimps, supplying “maids” who also work as prostitutes to single Gulf Arab men renting furnished flats in Cairo.¹ More research needs to be done on this phenomenon and on the holiday activities of Arab men more generally.

    But for many Saudis, going on holiday to Egypt is...

  11. CHAPTER 6 PALIMPSEST, EXCAVATION, GRAFFITI, SIMULACRA: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE IDEA OF EGYPT
    (pp. 200-226)

    In 1865, Lady Lucie Duff-Gordon, one of the early British tourists in Egypt, commented, “This country is a palimpsest in which the Bible is written over Herodotus, and the Koran over that.”¹ In Egypt, people have spent millennia writing over the monuments of the past, using them as temples, churches, mosques, homes, and museums, interpreting them according to their own imaginations, and appropriating them for their own political agendas. In 1400 bce, King Thutmosis IV undertook the first known restoration of the Sphinx, putting a plaque between the paws to mark his efforts; the Romans dug it out of the...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 227-246)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 247-266)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 267-279)