Leire Olabarria

Colleges, School and Institutes

Biography

I am an Egyptologist with a background in history and anthropology. I moved from Spain to the UK to pursue an MPhil in Egyptology (2008-2010), followed by a DPhil in Egyptology (2010-2014), both at the University of Oxford. I worked as a departmental lecturer at the Faculty of Oriental Studies (Oxford) from 2014 to 2016, when I took up a three-year research fellowship at The Queen’s College (Oxford). I am delighted to have joined the University of Birmingham in September 2019.

Research interests

My primary research focuses on how kinship is constructed and materialised in the monumental record of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom (ca 2150–1650 BCE), and it lies in the intersection of archaeology, anthropology, and Egyptology. While my main corpus for this research comprises memorial stelae from the site of Abydos, I use information from other written, archaeological, and pictorial sources to reassess the impact that monuments have had on the construction, perpetuation, and transmission of social networks. I explore these aspects in my recent monograph, Kinship and family in ancient Egypt: archaeology and anthropology in dialogue, published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. The book is available through Cambridge Core.

I am planning a new book that builds upon my interest in the monumental display of social groups. In this new project I will focus on the impact that these representations had on remembrance and on the practice of relatedness.

Other topics I am currently working on include gender, the impact of ethnography on the creation of Egyptology, and the reception of ancient Egypt in heavy metal and in science fiction. Regarding the latter, I am co-organising (with Dr Eleanor Dobson, Department of English Literature) an international symposium entitled Do ancient Egyptians dream of electric sheep? The reception of ancient Egypt in science fiction. I am also co-editing a volume on science fiction novels dealing with alternate history and uchronias in Antiquity.

Since 2021 I am section editor for gender theory in the new open access and peer-reviewed journal Interdisciplinary Egyptology.

I am also a keen field archaeologist, and I participate in the Dayr al-Barsha archaeological project in Middle Egypt, where I excavate a First Intermediate Period cemetery. The results of these excavations are being processed for publication.

Willingness to take PhD students

Yes

PhD projects

I would welcome research students interested in the material culture of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom, anthropological approaches to ancient Egypt, kinship and marriage, letters, stelae and memorial chapels, the construction of Egyptology as an area study, and aspects of the reception of Egypt in popular culture.