Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Can we Have OUR Stuff Back Please?" - Cultural Property Repatriation Issues

"Can We Have OUR Stuff Back Please?"
For the past three years I have been blogging on "Portable Antiquities Collecting and Heritage Issues" which covers the issues surrounding the antiquities market, and particularly the destruction of the archaeological record caused by ongoing commercial looting to supply it. The problems involved in cutting through all the pro-collecting rhetoric, conceits and deceits are manifold and I decided at an early stage to concentrate on that aspect rather than the more ambitious "heritage issues" implied in the title.

The question of the repatriation of things which are considered cultural property which were taken several decades and even centuries ago is - to my mind - quite a separate problem from the repatriation of items looted from archaeological sites or otherwise stolen more recently. The two however are often confused, whether deliberately to fog other issues, or unintentionally is questionable. My intention in opening this blog is to create a place to store a few news items I come across in my other reading, and explore a few issues for myself. It does not intend to be a comprehensive coverage of the issue, nor a particularly original contribution, many items will be summaries of recent news posts.

In general, this blog will cover calls for and moves towards (or resistance against) the return to the country they were taken from of material culture which had been removed before the implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property. My own interests are in archaeological material rather than paintings, literary memorabilia and postage stamps or whatever.

For other musings and rants connected with looting and transfer of ownership of cultural property, see my Portable Antiquities and Heritage Issues Blog, while a pseudo-blog I created last year called "Britain's Scattered Heritage" takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the scattering of a country's cultural heritage from a somewhat different angle (that blog is inactive - there will be no new posts there).

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