Barbie®, Perpetual Queen of the Egyptians: Inventing Egyptian Queenship in Popular Culture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Relying on palimpsestic representations of Cleopatra VII, filtered through earlier incarnations in popular culture – most notably, Elizabeth Taylor’s turn as the eponymous queen in Cleopatra (1963) – doll brands such as Mattel prioritise fashion and beauty in providing the dolls with both royal identities and identification with ancient Egypt. These dolls are not only representative of the ways that these brands have conceptualised Egyptian history, but also of the ways in which a vague and compressed version of ancient Egypt has been materially conceived in popular culture. These dolls, which are designed to appeal to broad publics, enable an exploration of racecraft and of specific gender expressions within commodifications of Egyptian queenship for modern audiences in the global north. The ambiguous racializing of Barbie dolls invites an intersectional lens to examining the incongruences between historical events and popular cultural representations of Egypt, queenship, and Cleopatra.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQueens in Antiquity and the Present
Subtitle of host publicationSpeculative Visions and Critical Histories
EditorsPatricia Kim, Anastasia Tchaplyghine
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print) 9781350380882
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Aug 2024

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