Lesson 4: Memories of Utopia: Tradition and Change

Lesson Information

About this Lesson:

This lesson introduces students to the contributions and challenges of the Nubians, an ethnic minority from Egypt and Sudan. Nubian culture is unique in its characteristics, history, and geography. Nonetheless, as a minority group in the Arab world, Nubian concerns echo those of many other ethnic minorities in the region. Nubians contribute to the culture and character of the Arab World through their art, music, literature, and cultural traditions. This lesson engages students around Nubian struggles as well as Nubian contributions to the Nile’s history and culture.

Time

100 minutes (2 class periods)

In this lesson, students will:

  • watch the film Memories of Utopia.
  • compare the Nubian perspective of the Aswan Dam to that of other Egyptians.

Key Terms:

  • Aswan Dam: Built by Gamal Abdel Nasser to prevent the annual flooding of the Nile river, the Aswan Dam was a key strategic initiative to industrialize Egypt following the Egyptian Revolution.
  • Lake Nasser/Lake Nubia: This reservoir on the Nile River was created as a result of the Aswan Dam. The reservoir is called Lake Nasser in Egypt and Lake Nubia in the Sudan.
  • Abu Simbel: Two rock temples built originally by Ramses II and moved during the construction of the Aswan Dam.
  • The Emigration: The construction of the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser led to significant flooding and the destruction of Nubian land. Nubians were forced to leave their land and move elsewhere. This is called the Emigration.
  • Pound: The Egyptian currency

 


Enduring Understandings

  • Peoples of the Arab world have diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, each with a distinctive character and identity.
  • Ethnic minorities negotiate their personal and collective identities in various ways to both accept and contest the dominant culture.
  • There is a strong connection between language and identity which creates unique challenges for linguistic minorities.

Curriculum Framing Questions

  • What are the concerns of ethnic minorities, and what can they do to voice their concerns?
  • What is the role of language in creating and accessing power for ethnic minorities in the Arab World?
  • What can we learn about the experiences of ethnic groups from the film and literature they produce?

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • evaluate current concerns of the Nubians by examining their history.

Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning:

  • Discuss and compare notes as a class to better understand the contributions and struggles of Nubians
  • Write a comparison of perspectives on the Aswan Dam as they are presented in Four Women of Egypt and Memories of Utopia


Curriculum Standards Information

Reading: Informational Texts

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)

Speaking and Listening

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Reading: Informational Text

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)

Speaking and Listening

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking

Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture studied


Implementation

Materials Needed in Class:

Memories of Utopia
Memories of Utopia Notes
Four Women of Egypt


Memories of Utopia Homework Assignment

Implementation Overview:

Click here to download PDF version

 

1.

Introduce the film Memories of Utopia, a documentary film about the Nubian people, an ethnic group indigenous to southern Egypt and Sudan. Instruct students to take notes on the various subjects listed on the Memories of Utopia Notes handout.

2.

Watch Memories of Utopia (75 minutes).

While it is recommended that you screen the entire film, you may show the select clips below (approx. 30 min):

  • 5:27-9:45 (4 min): Building a Nubian community
  • 9:45-12:18 (2.5 min): History of The Emigration
  • 15:45-18:25 (2.5 min): Music in Nubian culture
  • 19:37-24:21 (5 min): Wadi Halfa & the resistance movement
  • 26:34-34:40 (8 min): Longing for past & cultural resistance
  • 43:11-47:59 (5 min): The fusion of Nubian and Sudanese culture

 

3.

After watching Memories of Utopia, allow time for students to share their notes and discuss the themes in the film. Use the Curriculum Framing Questions for further discussion:

  • Who are the Nubians?
  • What are the concerns of Nubians, and what do they do to voice their concerns?
  • What is the role of language in creating and accessing power for Nubians in the Arab World?
  • What can we learn about the experiences of Nubians from the film and literature they produce?


Homework:

Distribute the Memories of Utopia Homework Assignment. Assign students to watch Four Women of Egypt from 26:20-29:05 and Memories of Utopia from the start to 12:20. Students will write a comparison of the perspectives on the Aswan Dam as they are expressed in each film. They should cite evidence from the text to support their claim.