Director of Cotsen Elected President of the International Association of Egyptologists

Willeke Wendrich, director of the Cotsen Institute, was elected president of the International Association of Egyptologists. This was announced on the first day of the twelfth International Congress of Egyptologists, held in Giza, Egypt, November 3–8, 2019. This scholarly conference of the professional organization is held every four years in a different country. It is attended by large numbers of Egyptologists, Egyptian archaeologists, researchers, heritage professionals, and others interested in Egyptology from many countries around the world. It is the third time that Egypt has hosted the conference.

Wendrich, who is professor in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, is the editor-in-chief of the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology and co-principal investigator of both the Digital Karnak Project and the Ancient Egyptian Architecture Online project. She has more than 30 years of experience in archaeological excavation and survey in Egypt and has conducted archaeological field schools for the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities from 2002 until 2014.

As a candidate for the presidency of the International Association of Egyptologists, Wendrich’s nomination required the support of at least ten professional or honorary members of the association. She will serve for four years, until the next congress. In her vision statement, which included a four-year plan in support of her candidacy, Wendrich stated “I see the role of the International Association of Egyptologists as one of listening and acting on behalf of the Egyptological community. Egyptology continues to innovate itself by examining its assumptions and renewing its objectives, subject of study, methods, and theoretical approaches. If we expect governments or the public to support our work, we need to engage in explaining why our work is relevant. The struggle we find ourselves in to preserve archaeological sites can only be alleviated if we connect with stake holders and involve communities in our work.”

The Congress was opened by the outgoing president, who announced his successor. In a reaction Wendrich said: “I’m honored by the trust of my colleagues and the enthusiasm of the council members. The three members of the presidium, which include Vice-President Tarek Tawfik (Cairo University) and Secretary-General Richard Bussmann (University of Cologne) very much think along the same lines. I am looking forward to working closely together and continue to strengthen the association.” Over 500 Egyptologists presented the results of their latest work at the Congress. Wendrich herself spoke on the “Africanness of Ancient Egypt: Divergent Views, Biases and Interpretations.”

During the closing session on Friday, Wendrich thanked the organizing committee for the excellent planning of a very successful congress and especially colleagues from the Ministry of Antiquities who had gone to great lengths to arrange the event. She expressed appreciation for the continued support of His Excellency Khaled al-Enany, Minister of Antiquities, and Mustafa el-Waziri. She then reported on the meeting of the council, consisting of national representatives of all countries that have more than ten members in the association. She thanked the members of the outgoing presidium for their commitment in the past four years and outlined the planned efforts of the council and presidium going forward. She then asked Prof. Dr. Fayza Haikal, professor emerita at the American University in Cairo to come forward and receive the honorary membership of the International Association of Egyptologists for her long active involvement in the Association and her inspiring role as educator and scholar.