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Exploring the Bettina Leopoldo collection on Siwa

Vincent Battesti

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With the complicity of Mrs Floriane Morin, Curator of the MEG Africa Department, in 2018 I explore the collection of Bettina Leopoldo (nearly 280 objects) collected in the 1980s in Siwa, deposited and then ceded to MEG (the Museum of Ethnography of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland).

Between twenty and thirty years before my own ethnographic fieldwork in the Siwa oasis, these objects had been collected by Bettina and Leonardo Leopoldo, whose memory is preserved - sometimes polemically - within the local oasis community.

This collection is both a testimony to the material culture that could be “collected” at that time, and also a testimony to the relations of an amateur ethnographer with this exotic terrain.
This collection, which is visible on the Museum’s website, was exhibited at the MEG in 1986 under the title “Egypt, the oasis of Amun-Siwa”, under the direction of Claude Savary.

Moreover, this period of the 1980s was the period when the oasis was not yet open to tourism (the asphalt road to access it was only opened in 1984): what objects disappeared during these three decades?, were others designed or modified to meet a tourist demand?

 Comparison to do with my own (and more modest) collection: Coll. vbat of objects from the Siwa Oasis.

coll. MEG (Bettina Leopoldo) - Musée d’ethnographie de Genève
Photo Vincent Battesti
coll. MEG (Bettina Leopoldo) - Musée d’ethnographie de Genève
Photo Vincent Battesti
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This page was last updated on Friday 21 January 2022 at 11:01:01. //// -----> Quote this page?
Vincent Battesti , "Exploring the Bettina Leopoldo collection on Siwa " (online), Anthropoasis |, page published 4 May 2018 (consulted 23 May 2024), available on: