Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Three Years' of Repatriation Blog

I started this blog three years ago. Its purpose was to separate the discussions of pre-1970 repatriation issues from the discussion on the main blog of the ongoing despoliation of sites by antiquity collectors. I sensed that the mixing of the two separate (in my opinion) issues was clouding the debate, and it is my suspicion that this was being deliberately done. So I wanted to explore it separately.

In contrast to the main (PACHI) blog, I never intended this blog to present any particular case or be a systematic overview of the subject, these are mostly just loose jottings. I did however try to record here the more newsworthy topics that were being discussed as they came up. I was curious how it breaks down by topic:

Parthenon 21
Turkey 14 (mostly in 2012)
'American museums' 9

Human remains 8 (New Zealand 5, Ainu 1, Namibia 1)
African art 9
Egypt 8 (2011 and 2012 only)
Benin/Nigeria 7 (Ghana 1)
Cambodia 7
China 5 
Korea 3
Sri Lanka 3 (about one object though)
Russia 3
Italy 3
Greece 2
India 2 
Melanesia, New Zeland Australia 2
South America, Ecuador, Peru 5
Native American 3
Central America 2
Armenia 1
Jordan 1
Libya 2 (2011)
Obviously these results are skewed. They reflect what caught my eye rather than being a statistical survey. Nevertheless it seems that the picture is not entirely an artefact of my own interests. There is a massive campaign on behalf of the Parthenon marbles. There was a lot of pressure from Egypt not only about current loot, but loot of an earlier period, though the latter seems to have quietened with Zahi Hawass losing his position in the Ministry. Turkey has now taken the lead in insisting on the return of pre-1970s losses, though the peak was rather more last year than this. The controversy about US museums and their attitudes will not go away. The Benin campaign of course owes much to the tireless activity and forceful arguments of one academic Kwame Opoku. The relative prominence of African art issues stem from colonial history and the size of the continent. Human remains taken in colonial times also raise many easily recognizable concerns.  There seems to be a dearth here of South and Central American topics, but Donna Yates' blogs currently fill in those gaps quite well.

It does seem that the current repatriation debate does have certain foci. In 2014 I will give some thought as to where this blog is going, if anywhere. Comments welcome. I'd also like to hear from other bloggers doing the same topic.


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