[Ancientartifacts] Re: De Montebello responds

Mr Barford,
I assume that since the logic of a universal museum can be scoffed at, since we have 'books' (therefore there is no possible benefit to an African object in a Western country) then we can also close all the zoos or art gallerys around the world also since they have no worth as long as there is 'Animal Planet' on TV, or an Art magazine on hand. The impication of the response to Montabello is that a universal museum is pointless.
Well excuse me, but I am not afflicted with enough white liberal guilt to buckle at the knees just yet.
 Naturally all camels in Australia should be returned to Bactria. Come to think of it...Europeans belong in Europe too. Whitey (the evil thieving colonial that this issue is really about) should go back to where he came from. I would expect it would only be fair that when whitey leaves he takes all his intellectual property too. Why draw the line at "cultural property"? "Intellectual property" is a serious legal issue these days.
I would expect that Mr. Opoku would send me the shirt off his back in the mail, or at least cut off the buttons. Come to think of it, trouser are attributed to the Scythians.....I expect that they would be put in the post too. Silk, nylon, satin, wool...sorry....return to sender.
Where do you draw they line?
Don't draw any line at all. If France & Britain needs to return objects to the care of indignant mother countries & repent over its colonial past, and we re-examine everything through lens of current ethics (rather than consider object movement as a feature of human history itself....) then we may as well roll back the clock and restore all animals and cultures to their proper place. Lets pretend history never happened. Everyone deserves whats coming to them. An image in ochre on a rock face will suffice for Mr. Opuku to remember just what his oppressors had taken back. Alongside a picture of a gazelle & hunters spearing wildebeest there would be a representation of a TV, and car, an aeroplane.
Everyone would be in bliss. No baggage from the past. Each getting what they deserve, and not in anybodies debt.
I couldn't care less what Mr. Opuku thinks.
While I agree something doesn't have to be in a museum to exist I think we need to look to the future instead of whining about the past. No museum should need to return material just based on sentimental guff. The exposure of African culture by being on display in a major museum should be something that would raise some pride in African peoples rather than "give it back! give it all back!".
Yeah, Well I would say if vilifying the West is the theme-de-jour then "give it back" indeed.
To quote from the life of Brian sketch: "What have the Romans ever done for us?":
What have the Romans ever done for us? sketch from Life of Brian.

..........And what have they ever given us in return?!
The aqueduct?
The aqueduct.
Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.
And the sanitation.
Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?
Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.
And the roads.
Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don't they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads--
Huh? Heh? Huh...
Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.
And the wine.
Oh, yes. Yeah...
Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.
Public baths.
And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.
Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let's face it. They're the only ones who could in a place like this.
Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.
All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?


Re: De Montebello responds

Posted by: "Paul Barford" pbarford@pro.onet.pl   paul_barford

Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:50 pm (PDT)

Dave (and anyone else still following the De Montabello thread),

I'm sure you'd concede that the whole POINT of De Montabello's reply to
Opoku WAS the "universal museum" concept which lies behind the collecting
activity (and was his justification for dismissing what the African was
saying), so in posting it here one might legitimately assume that you were
attempting to provoke discussion on it. So its odd you shrink from it when
it is questioned and instead persist on following a speculative side-issue.

In any case, your "explanation" of your earlier comment about the Roman
Catholic Church only confirms what I asserted, that you are persuing
speculations of your own about what the repatriation lobby is saying, and
NOT what Opoku was writing about in the article to which De Montabello was
replying. (Please read it again without preconceptions).

In any case, your speculative projections are just plain wrong.

> This affects the government of Italy inasmuch as it
> is legally responsible for what happens in Italy<
Ummm. The Holy See is not "in" Italy, so the Italian government cannot be
obliged to return cultural property posessed by the Catholic Church as you
had suggested. It was that part of your speculative projection I was

Likewise, there is a legal difference between empire, colony and external
sovereign state. In the unlikely event that your projection of "where this
might end" became reality, goods moved two millennia ago within the borders
of the Roman Empire would be unaffected. Pure and simple.

> You are not giving proper consideration to the real
> issue, which is not what the repatriation lobby is
> actually arguing, but what could happen if they
> won the argument. <
No, what is important IS indeed to have clear in one's head what it is they
are arguing and why, and what they are not saying. And give them proper

The "what could happen if they won" speculations are transparently
propagated by a handful of activists in order to get collectors up in arms
against such notions, rather than being based in any real facts or proposed
measures. Some collectors on other forums seem to accept this sort of loud
rabble-rousing stuff at face value, I assume many other collectors are wise
enough to see that, when it comes down to it, this is in fact just so much
bluster intended to create a fogscreen and deflect attention (discussion)
away from the very real issues raised and thus ultimately doing their cause
more damage than good.

Paul Barford


This communication, including any attachments, is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, you should not read it - please contact me immediately, destroy it, and do not copy or use any part of this communication or disclose anything about it. Thank you. Please note that this communication does not designate an information system for the purposes of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002. 


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