Saturday, October 25, 2014

Amal Alamuddin and the Parthenon Marbles

Here is a selection of the news items about the involvement of a 'celebrity' lawyer (married to a Hollywood star) in the Parthenon Marbles dispute with the British Museum:

2nd October: 'George Clooney's fiance, Amal Alamuddin to visit Greek Prime minister about the Parthenon Sculptures', Marbles Reunited.

3rd October: 'Amal Alamuddin assumes the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles' Greek Reporter.

9th October: 'George Clooney's wife Amal Alamuddin set to advise Greece on Parthenon Marbles' New York Daily News.

12th October: 'How Amal Alamuddin Clooney became involved in the Parthenon Marbles case' Ekathimerini

13th Oct 2014: 'Parthenon marbles meet Hollywood as Amal Alamuddin Clooney advises Greece' The Guardian.

14th October: 'Amal Alamuddin, now Amal Clooney, in Greece for Parthenon Marbles bid', CBS News

"The Elgin Marbles belong in Britain, Mrs Clooney"

There has been a sudden scramble of attention in the international media over the Parthenon Marbles over the past few days which is directly related to the involvement of 'celebrity' British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin in the discussions. It seems we need more celebrities in the struggle with the looters. Anyway one of the less salubrious 'contributions to the discussion' is a nasty piece of orientalist chest-thumping chauvinism from the Telegraph (Jeremy Paxman,  "The Elgin Marbles belong in Britain, Mrs Clooney") with the patronising leader: "Had Lord Elgin not plundered these works of art, they might have ended up in the footings of an Athens kebab stand", reflecting Paxman's attitudes towards the Greeks and kebabs. British Museum, can you do no betteer than that? 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lord Elgin was a hero who saved the marbles for the world

In a lengthy and closely-argued text, Dominic Selwood explains why he thinks: 'Amal Clooney should back off. Lord Elgin was a hero who saved the marbles for the world', Telegraph October 21st, 2014.

If the Greek government is about to launch a new media PR campaign for the return of the marbles, it is time to put aside the wilful misinformation and cheap innuendo that masks the genuine debt that everyone — most especially Greece — owes to Lord Elgin. The world needs to stop whipping him, and start thanking him for his Herculean efforts, contra mundum, in saving these wonderful sculptures for everyone.
... and if he was a heritage hero, does that mean they should never go back? Why?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Return of Parthenon Marbles Would 'Ruin' Museums, Warns Historian

Sir John Boardman, emeritus Oxford professor of classical archaeology and art, warns that an attempt by Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s new wife, to help secure the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece could result in an "appalling precedent", resulting in museums worldwide "having to give up artefacts they had held for decades".
Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s new wife, are flying to Athens next week for a three-day visit to hold a series of talks with figures including Antonis Samaras, the country’s prime minister, and Konstantinos Tasoulas, the culture minister.[...] Sir John said the move could threaten other items in the British Museum as well as the Louvre, which is “packed” with artifacts from Turkey, and museums in Berlin which also hold items from Turkey. “You would get all mixed up with nationalities and who owned what when,” he said.
Well, fancy that, the colonialists having to think about who owns the stuff they've walked off with.

Edward Malnick, 'Return of Elgin (sic) Marbles would 'ruin' museums, warns leading historian', Telegraph 10 Oct 2014.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Atwood on the Head of Olokun

Head of Olokun
Roger Atwood writes on a lost, and perhaps now found, ancient Nigerian masterpiece, the Head of Olokun
see also Martin Bailey, 'Is the Olokun Head the real thing?', Art Newspaper Issue 213, May 2010: 04 May 2010

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Problems Surrounding Return of Human Remains

A UN conference has called for an intensified effort to achieve the repatriation of Indigenous ceremonial objects and human remains being held in foreign museums and other institutions. This is a key outcome of the inaugural World Conference on Indigenous Peoples that has just ended at UN headquarters in New York. The article focuses on Australian aboriginal remains and objects
Many European museums and galleries have held Australian Indigenous remains without even looking at them for decades [...] it was only when Indigenous communities began asking for the remains be returned, that their scientific value was suddenly deemed paramount. "Most collections that have been assembled overseas have never really been studied. That's the irony anyway. It's the irony from [the point of view of] anthropology. It might not actually be from the Aboriginal point of view. I can accept that. But often when institutions in Europe have been asked to return remains, they say, 'But these haven't been studied.' They've only had them [for] a hundred years and they've still not studied them and all of a sudden they've found that they're very valuable. Now, they're reluctant to give them back because now they want to study them."
Over the years, Australia has emerged as a global leader in the repatriation of Indigenous remains.
 Kristina Kukolja, 'UN conference calls for return of Indigenous remains', World News Radio 1 Oct 2014