During the exhibition and programming for Queen Nefertari’s Egypt, audiences and scholars continue to raise questions around the roles of women’s power and influence within ancient Egyptian forms of governance. Join us for a closing panel discussion that continues to tease out some of the details around Queen Nefertari’s leadership, while also taking into consideration a wider history of women’s influence within pre-colonial Africa. Drawing on their individual bodies of work and research, Dr. Solange Ashby (President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA), Dr. Bright Alozie (Assistant Professor of Black Studies at Portland State University) and Debora Heard (Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology, specializing in Nubian Archaeology at the University of Chicago) will continue to think through varying forms of women’s leadership in ancient African Civilizations.
Solange Ashby received her Ph.D. in Egyptology with a specialization in ancient Egyptian language and Nubian religion from the University of Chicago. Dr. Ashby’s expertise in sacred ancient languages including Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Coptic, Ethiopic, Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew underpins her research into the history of religious transformation in Northeast Africa and the Middle East. Her first book, Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae, explores the temple of Philae’s history as a Nubian sacred site.
Dr. Ashby has been awarded a President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California – Los Angeles. Her current research describes the roles of women – queens, priestesses, mothers – in traditional Nubian religious practices. In 2023, Dr. Ashby will join the faculty of the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA where she will teach Egyptology and Nubian Studies.
She is a founding member of the William Leo Hansberry Society which seeks to create pathways for people of African descent – on the continent and in the diaspora – to engage in the study of African antiquity.
Dr. Bright Alozie is an Assistant Professor of Black Studies in the Black Studies Department and an affiliate faculty in the Department of History at Portland State University, Portland, Oregon. He graduated from the University of Nigeria with a bachelor’s degree in history and international studies before going on to pursue graduate studies. He earned two master’s degrees — one in history and international studies from the University of Nigeria and another in international politics and diplomacy from the University of Liverpool — and a Ph.D. in history from West Virginia University. His core research interests are social and political history in Nigeria and Africa; women, gender and sexuality; petitions, slavery and African studies; war; identity and memory politics; digital and oral history; protests; and resistence movements. He has taught several history and Black Studies courses and published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and summary articles. Dr. Alozie is a recipient of several research grants, fellowships, and paper awards. He is currently working on two books: Voices in Ink: Petitions and the Colonial State in Colonial Igboland, Nigeria and Boobs in Public, Butts in Parliament: A Book of Poems expected to be out in Fall 2022.
Debora Heard is a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology specializing in the archaeology and history of ancient Nubia at the University of Chicago where she has also studied the ancient Egyptian history and language. She situates her research at the intersection of anthropology, archaeology, Egyptology, Nubian Studies, African Studies, and Africana Studies. Her dissertation research engages in a regional and temporal analysis of the inscriptions and iconography of Upper Nubian Kushite temples dedicated to the gods Amun and Apedemak.
For more than a decade, she has given public lectures, taught courses, and participated in special programming dedicated to ancient Nubia and Egypt at the Oriental Institute, the Kemetic Institute of Chicago, Chicago State University, and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Debora has served as an intern in the Department of Egyptian and Nubian Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and as a curatorial assistant in the installation of the Picken Family Nubian Gallery of the Oriental Institute Museum. She has excavated at sites in the Nile 4th Cataract region in Sudan. She is a member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, the Sudan Archaeological Research Society, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Society of Black Archaeologists, the American Sudanese Archaeological Research Center, and most recently, she serves as the organizer and founding member of the William Leo Hansberry Society, which is committed to providing African-descended people with access, opportunity, and training in the fields of ancient Nile Valley and Northeast African Studies.
She earned a bachelor’s in Political Science from Tennessee State University, a Juris Doctorate from Tulane Law School, a master’s in African-American Studies from Temple University, and a master’s in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.