Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Greece drops legal action plans for Parthenon Marbles.

Helena Smith ' Greece drops option of legal action in British Museum Parthenon marbles row Guardian, Wednesday 13 May 2015.
The new Greek cultural minister Nikos Xydakis said the route to retrieving the treasures lay in diplomatic and political channels and not international courts where outcomes were far from assured. [...]  What was needed, he insisted, was “low-key persistent work” as the climate was gradually changing.
Indeed it is. The days of cultural property philistinism are numbered. 
The minister was speaking barely 48 hours after receiving a 150-page dossier from Amal Clooney and fellow leading human rights lawyers at London’s Doughty Street chambers exhorting the Greek government to pursue legal channels immediately. The report, outlining the options Athens faced in its decades-long struggle to win back the fifth century BC carvings, described a “now or never” opportunity for Greece and advised it to take the British Museum to the international court of justice. “The British adhere to international law,” said Clooney who co-authored the report with Geoffrey Robertson and Norman Palmer, British QCs regarded as pre-eminent experts in cultural restitution. “The Greek government has never taken advantage of this Achilles heel. You must take legal action now or you may lose the opportunity to do so due to future legal obstacles.”
I think it is a wise move not to take the lawyers up on it. It is difficult to see what legal arguments would stick. If they lose the case the Marbles stay. We do not need a legal judgement to say the Marbles should be returned. The moral case is clear. Crystal clear.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

James Cuno on Museums: The Case Against (sic) Repatriating Artifacts

Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs, recently sat down with Cuno to discuss his case against repatriating museum artefacts. It seems to me that he is gently parodying Cuno's views. They initially employed a dyslexic typing monkey to provide the transcript but it has been silently corrected since. Of course what he gracelessly avoids talking about are the objects in US museums that are sent back to the source country because they ended up in the US illegally - which is absolutely the number-one reason why these repatriations take place. the man is muddying the waters.

Right now, this nonsense about "repatriation". Note this is an American term. If Cuno is going to get pedantic about it, let us remember that there is an allied term depatriation. This is what Cuno is arguing for. So when is Cuno going to advocate for the USA withdrawing from the 1970 UNESCO Convention where cultural property and nations go together? The problem seems to be that America has no real national culture of its own, mainly what it has taken from others and the deletion of much of what was there before the European dominance.

This follows his "Culture War The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts
" in the same periodical at the end of last year - described by the American Committee for Cultural Philistinism, as an "important article". Well, they would, wouldn't they?

The sixth blood antiquity from a US museum went back to Cambodia this week. Cleveland Museum at last admitted that there were problems with "their" Hanuman.