Published August 30, 2021 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Theorizing Vulnerability and Resilience in Ancient Egypt: First Thoughts



Historians and archaeologists can answer all of these questions, even though on the first impression the last two might seem out of their reach. Why do we study vulnerability in the past? We study vulnerability in the past because it was one of the experiences that has made us who we are as homo sapiens sapiens. If we had not been vulnerable as a species, we would not have evolved. Who will benefit from studies of vulnerability in the past? Certainly, the fields of history, archaeology and anthropology, since the results of such studies add to our better understanding of different past societies. However, also those who can identify with past vulnerable experiences in different ways, since narratives of the past and museum exhibitions rarely offer them something they can relate to. What responsibility do we have to vulnerable people in the past and present? In the case of vulnerable people in the past, we choose to focus on them and to tell their stories, either because we aim at a more complete reconstruction of the past and/or because we share the idea of ethical and social responsibility towards vulnerable people everywhere and at any time. We are responsible to vulnerable people in the present because they are also part of the society we live and work in. Archaeology, after all, is among all else a “socio-political action in the present” (Tilley 1989).


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