Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Right Way to Save El Hibeh, and the Wrong Way

Having not received any kind of answer to my two emails to the group's organizers sent three days ago asking why I cannot access the "Save El Hibeh" campaign's Facebook page, I can only assume that I have indeed been banned from it for posting a link to Peter Tompa's comments on the situation there and then asking why it was summarily deleted. There was of course nothing uncivil in either posts, just an attempt to elicit some discussion.

Quite apart from the total lack of courtesy shown by these people not even acknowledging my request for information, let alone supplying a satisfactory answer, there is - I feel - a broader issue.  Not only do I still feel that a discussion of the points Tompa made might have been useful for that group finding more of a focus than it seems currently to have, but also a very specific question was asked about the discovery of a tomb there which really does need a proper answer for the same reasons (and maybe deleting the post was an attempt to avoid answering it).

It would appear from all this that the campaign's leaders are not particularly interested in the use of social media for any kind of discussion of views which do not fit their own. It would appear from this incident that the group's members are not there to contribute, simply sit quietly to provide support-in-numbers like a flock of sheep for the unilateral actions of a few. This suggests that campaign of the foreign excavators of this site is less about working together and working out ways to cope with this complex situation, but merely helping the self-promotion of the organizers and their own needs.  Dressing it up with an altruistic "we are doing it for the Egyptian people" facade is quite at odds with the automatic refusal to address the points Mr Tompa made.

To my mind, the protection of the archaeological heritage is a process of discussion with all parties and all points of view. It is certainly not something that can be unilaterally demanded from and imposed on the rest of the world by US archaeologists. Perhaps when the excavators of this site, guests in Egypt, come to understand that, they will stand a better chance of getting somewhere with their campaign and better and more general recognition of their needs in Egypt.

This blog was one of the first to note the campaign, and send people there; the campaign and the issues it raised have been mentioned here more times and in more detail than any other archaeoblog. Yet this treatment is the way Professor Redmount and her colleagues repay that help and interest. Since I no longer have any access to information, I will not be mentioning or promoting their El-Hibeh campaign any more on this blog.

Vignette: The face of the campaign, Berkeley's Carol Redmount



Nicole Hansen said...

You and I don't always see eye to eye, but in this case I agree completely. I was also kicked out of the group very early on and I wrote to Dr. Redmount (who was one of my professors in college) and told her that the way that the admin of the page (whose name escapes me at the moment but is a foreign high school teacher here in Cairo) was operating was reprehensible.

Unfortunately, it seems if you post something that does not fit his predetermined narrative your posts are deleted and you are summarily blocked from the group. Among my posts he deleted was one simply suggesting that the illicit digging may have not been just for antiquities to sell but also the fabled red mercury. And you and I are not the only ones who have been treated in this manner on the page.

And in all sadness, I was forced by being expelled to come to the conclusion there are bigger and more important causes here in Egypt that deserve my attention than saving el Hibeh.

Paul Barford said...

But "not seeing eye to eye" is what debate and discussion are all about.

It seems to me that by kicking people off (in my case without ANY notification or explanation) these people see themselves as the only people who have all the solutions, and they do not need any alternative opinions to impede them.

Either they set up a group, and manage it as one, with attempts to reach consensus with concessions to the fact that members have different views, OR if they want to put forward "the-one-and-only-true"view, they set up a one-person blog about it which reflects the view of its author. They cannot have both.

It was not as if I was uncivil or anything.

And yes, I imagine that at the moment in the region of El Hibeh there are more important things for the authorities to do than accede to the demands of the American diggers and stop people digging holes.

Nicole Hansen said...

I got no warning or explanation either even after contacting Dr. Redmount. You are right, they should have set up a page on FB to put their announcements and turned off the ability to comment on them. At least that way we would not waste our time putting our effort into trying to help only to have our posts deleted and be kicked out of the group without warning.

I have the network to get a lot of Egyptian archaeologists on their side if I wanted to, but I would be ashamed if I were to recommend the group to a colleague only to have them humiliated by the moderators by being kicked out.

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