In this talk Rachel Mairs explores the potential of phrasebooks as a source for life-writing, taking as case studies several native Arabic speakers who worked closely with European archaeologists and missionaries in the nineteenth century.
Rachel Mairs is a professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading. She is interested in the interaction between Greeks and 'non-Greeks' in the Hellenistic world, with a particular emphasis on Egypt and on Central Asia. She also works on ancient multilingualism, especially Greek-Egyptian. The modern Middle East interests her as much as the ancient Middle East. A chance find on eBay led her to publish the private papers of a nineteenth-century Palestinian tourist guide (The Dragoman Solomon Negima and his Clients, 2016). With a colleague, Maya Muratov at Adelphi University in the United States, she published a book on the interpreters and guides used by early British and American travellers in the Middle East (Archaeologists, Tourists, Interpreters, 2015). She has a new project on Europeans studying Arabic in the nineteenth-century.