Nubia Still Exists: Menna Agha and Lucia Allais (online)

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In connection to the exhibition High Dam: Modern Pyramid by Ala Younis at VI PER, Menna Agha and Lucia Allais will present their research on the Aswan High Dam’s impact on the Nubian population and archeological heritage respectively. In what has been described as the Nubian exodus, 120,000 Nubians were resettled to the distant newly constructed settlements of New Nubia in Egypt and New Halfa in Sudan. Although the displacement of Nubians took place simultaneously with relocation of numerous ancient temples, most famously two monumental rock-carved temples at Abu Simbel, it received much less international support and coverage.

As a third-generation Nubian displaced by the Egyptian state due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, Menna Agha focuses on the trauma of Nubians loosing their homes and land, the ensuing loss of matrilineal structures, and the ways in which this impacted spatial and gendered issues today. Lucia Allais’ research focuses on salvation and protection of monuments from various destructive scenarios in the 20th century, including the 1960s UNESCO International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia. Although framed within the rhetorics of universalism and world heritage, the campaign was not free of the intricacies of the Cold War politics of the time.

Menna Agha is a Nubian architect and researcher based in Antwerp, Belgium. In 2019 she was a visiting Assistant Professor and a Spatial Justice Fellow at the University of Oregon, USA. She holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Antwerp and an MA in Integrated Design, with a focus on gender and design, from the Technical University of Cologne, Germany. Her research interests include questions of gender, space, territory and displacement. Her texts include “Nubia Still Exists: The Utility of the Nostalgic Space,” “Liminal Publics, Marginal Resistance,” and “Emotional Capital and Other Ontologies of the Architect.”

Lucia Allais is an architectural historian and design critic based in New York, USA. She is Associate Professor of Architecture at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Previously she taught at Princeton as Professor in the History and Theory of Architecture and worked as an architect in Europe and the United States. She published numerous articles on the intersection of culture, politics, and technology in the modern period. Her first book Designs of Destruction: The Making of International Monuments in the 20th Century (2018) was published by the University of Chicago Press.

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