The fourth chapter uses the sites and spaces in and around Luxor as the culmination not only of the long journeys of the travellers in this book, but also of the ideas presented throughout these pages. Truth spots, sites of knowledge creation, network creation, the intellectual landscape all peaked in the activities of archaeologists in Luxor. Luxor’s many sites, tombs, and artefacts drew both archaeologists and tourists and, therefore, offered a variety of lodging options. Smaller hotels like the Grand Hotel, Karnak Hotel, and the Savoy, were significant only as meeting places for social events and holiday meals, such as those that took place on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, or New Year’s Eve. From the time it was built in 1907, the Winter Palace became the chosen lodging of many archaeologists, including Carter and Breasted before their houses were built, and Davis when he wanted to get off his boat. The Luxor Hotel, older than the Winter Palace and only a short walk away, was favoured by less generously funded archaeologists and tourists on a budget. This chapter is much longer than the others because there are two major hotel sites to discuss, and, because there exist far more sources for these events, the stories are more complex. The stories of Margaret Benson, Janet Gourlay, Emma Andrews, and E. Harold Jones are detailed here. I also argue for a new view of the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Tea on the terrace takes readers on a journey up and down the Nile with archaeologists and Egyptologists. Travellers such as Americans Theodore Davis, Emma Andrews, and James Breasted, as well as Britons Wallace Budge, Maggie Benson, and Howard Carter arrived in Alexandria, moved on to Cairo, travelled up the Nile by boat and train, and visited Luxor. Throughout the journey, readers spend some time with them at their hotels and on their boats. We listen in on their conversations, watch their activities, and begin to understand that much archaeological work was not done at the field site or in the university museum, as many historians have argued. Instead, understanding the politics of conversation in the social studies of science, the book shows that hotels in Egypt on the way to and from home institutions and excavation sites were liminal, but powerful and central, spaces which became foundations for establishing careers, building and strengthening scientific networks, and generating and experimenting with new ideas. These are familiar stories to readers, but Tea on the terrace presents them in a new framework to show Egyptologists’ activities in a seemingly familiar but unknown space. A mix of archaeological tourism and the history of Egyptology, the book is based on original archival research, using letters, diaries, biographies, and travel guides as well as secondary sources.
Having finished preparing for the season, some archaeologists went out to the desert areas near Cairo, and throughout Lower Egypt. But many went south to Luxor, heading up the river by steamboat, dahabeah, or train, and sometimes stopping at various points along the way. The third chapter follows these river travellers and centralises their activities on these semi-private boats as scientific institutions in Egyptology. The boats served as labs, classrooms, offices, storerooms, and homes. Some archaeologists, like Charles Wilbour, Emma Andrews, Theodore Davis, Archibald Sayce, and James Breasted, travelled to Luxor in dahabeahs, or private houseboats. They would live on the river in these floating homes, entertain guests, host scientific meetings, and even store their artefacts to keep them safe. While dahabeahs were not necessarily options for all archaeologists on limited budgets, there were enough of them to analyse the role they played as semi-public spaces and as scientific institutions. James Breasted used dahabeahs in this manner, deliberately beginning to do so in 1905 and then continually after that for the next thirty years. He saw these floating laboratories as so important to Egyptology that he attempted, but failed, to get funding for a custom-built steamer to house his work in Egypt. Travelling up the Nile in any conveyance usually strengthened the bonds in each network, and, by turning the dahabeahs and steamers into scientific institutions themselves, they became truth spots by giving credibility to the work the travellers were doing.
As a result of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, in 2020 forensic institutions in Mexico began using extreme measures in the treatment of bodies of confirmed or suspected cases, due to possible infection. A series of national protocols on how to deal with the virus were announced, yet forensic personnel have struggled to apply these, demonstrating the country’s forensics crisis. This article aims to reflect on two points: (1) the impact that COVID-19 protocols have had on how bodies confirmed as or suspected of being infected with the virus are handled in the forensic medical system; and (2) the particular treatment in cases where the body of the victim is unidentified, and the different effects the pandemic has had in terms of the relationship between the institutional environment and the family members of those who have died as a result of infection, or suspected infection, from COVID-19.
When drone footage emerged of New York City’s COVID-19 casualties being buried by inmates in trenches on Hart Island, the images became a key symbol for the pandemic: the suddenly soaring death toll, authorities’ struggle to deal with overwhelming mortality and widespread fear of anonymous, isolated death. The images shocked New Yorkers, most of whom were unaware of Hart Island, though its cemetery operations are largely unchanged since it opened over 150 years ago, and about one million New Yorkers are buried there. How does Hart Island slip in and out of public knowledge for New Yorkers in a cycle of remembering and forgetting – and why is its rediscovery shocking? Perhaps the pandemic, understood as a spectacular event, reveals what has been there, though unrecognised, all along.
Based on the anthropological classification of death into ‘good deaths’, ‘beautiful deaths’ and ‘evil deaths’, and using the methodology of screen ethnography, this article focuses on mourning in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the extreme cases of deaths in Manaus and among the Yanomami people. The article ‘follows the virus’, from its first role in a death in the country, that of a domestic worker, to hurriedly dug mass graveyards. I consider how the treatment of bodies in the epidemiological context sheds light on the meanings of separation by death when mourning rituals are not performed according to prevailing cultural imperatives. Parallels are drawn with other moments of sudden deaths and the absence of bodies, as during the South American dictatorships, when many victims were declared ‘missing’. To conclude, the article focuses on new funerary rituals, such as Zoom funerals and online support groups, created to overcome the impossibility of mourning as had been practised in the pre-pandemic world.
Research into the governance of dead bodies, primarily focused on post-conflict contexts, has often focused on the aspects of the management of dead bodies that involve routinisation, bureaucratisation and order. Less attention has been paid to the governance of the dead in times of relative peace and, in particular, to the aspects of such work that are less bureaucratised and controlled. This article explores the governance of dead bodies in pandemic times – times which although extraordinary, put stress on ordinary systems in ways that are revealing of power and politics. Observations for this article come from over fifteen years of ethnographic research at a medical examiner’s office in Arizona, along with ten focused interviews in 2020 with medico-legal authorities and funeral directors specifically about the COVID-19 pandemic. The author argues that the pandemic revealed the ways in which the deathcare industry in the United States is an unregulated, decentralised and ambiguous space.
This article sets forth a theoretical framework that first argues that necropolitical power and sovereignty should be understood as existing on a spectrum that ultimately produces the phenomenon of surplus death – such as pandemic deaths or those disappeared by the state. We then expound this framework by juxtaposing the necropolitical negligence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the violence of forced disappearances to argue that the surplus dead have the unique capacity to create political change and reckonings, due to their embodied power and agency. Victims of political killings and disappearance may not seem to have much in common with victims of disease, yet focusing on the mistreatment of the dead in both instances reveals uncanny patterns and similarities. We demonstrate that this overlap, which aligns in key ways that are particularly open to use by social actors, provides an entry to comprehend the agency of the dead to incite political reckonings with the violence of state action and inaction.