[Ancientartifacts] Re: Who Owns the Past?

Possibly, in the future, Wisconsin.
"BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the Republican Party of Wisconsin, in
convention assembled, asks lawmakers to pass a bill exempting art,
books, coins, militaria, pottery, stamps, weapons and other common
antique collectibles for consideration from future import
restriction and cultural property laws and treaties".
Ramon Saenz de Heredia
--- In Ancientartifacts@yahoogroups.com, "Dave Welsh" <dwelsh46@...>
> James Cuno contends that antiquities from great cultures belong to
> not nation states that emerged centuries later
> http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=10678
> Unprecedented global travel and cultural exchange help make the
world a
> smaller place but, ironically, they also stir national pride.
> combined with business calculation, now threaten to segregate
antiquity that
> belongs to all of the humanity.
> Most nation states have cultural property laws that restrict the
> international movement in archaeological artifacts found within
> borders. But some antiquities are undocumented, lacking evidence of
> archaeological circumstances or removal. In the current debate over
> acquisition of undocumented antiquities, the world's archaeological
> community has allied with nationalistic programs of nation states.
> Nations can and do bring charges of possession of, or conspiring to
> stolen property against people and institutions holding objects
covered by
> the relevant ownership laws, as seen with the Republic of Italy's
> against the former J. Paul Getty Museum curator, Marion True, or
> charges against Yale University with regard to contested Machu
> artifacts. More often than not, such laws are perceived as free of
> - the stuff of objective, reasoned best practice and indifferent
> regulations. Nothing could be farther than the truth.
> Government serves the interest of those in power. Once in power,
> control over territory, governments breed loyalty among their
> often by promoting a particular identity and history. National
culture -
> language and religion, patterns of behavior, dress and artistic
production -
> is at once the means and manifestation of such beliefs, identity and
> loyalty, and serves to reinforce governments in power.
> Governments can use antiquities - artifacts of cultures no longer
extant and
> in every way different from the culture of the modern nation - to
serve the
> government's purpose. They attach identity with an extinct culture
that only
> happened to have shared more or less the same stretch of the earth's
> geography. The reason behind such claims is power.
> ...
> Sadly, the public discussion about nationalist retentionist cultural
> property laws focuses on their role, which foreign governments and
> archaeological community promote, as a means of protecting the
integrity of
> archaeological sites. It's argued that the laws inhibit looting and
> consequent illicit trade.
> But this is only partly true. Over the decades in which they've
been in
> place, strengthened by international conventions and bilateral
treaties, the
> looting of archaeological sites has continued. In fact, many
> claim it's increased. The real purpose of such laws - and this is
what we
> should be arguing about - is to preserve nation states' claims of
> over antiquities found or presumed to have been found within their
> jurisdiction. This happens just as the world is increasingly
divided along
> nationalist, sectarian lines.
> The alternative to consigning the protection of our ancient
heritage to
> national jurisdiction is the United Nations, specifically its
cultural body,
> UNESCO. Sadly, UNESCO's Achilles' heel is its grounding in nation-
> politics and its respect for nationalism. For example, relying on
> charter, the organization maintained that it could not prevent the
> destruction of much of the Kabul Museum's extraordinary collection
in 2001.
> This occurred in the aftermath of the destruction of the monumental
> at Bamiyan, led by Taliban forces who ran the Afghan government at
that time
> and thus had sovereignty over Afghanistan's cultural property. The
> special envoy to Afghanistan had discussed the edict with the
Afghan foreign
> minister before the destruction, but in the end UNESCO only
condemned the
> actions, watching as the collection was attacked.
> ...
> Ironically any state can denounce a UNESCO Convention "on its own
behalf or
> on behalf of any territory for which territorial relations it is
> responsible" and simply ignore it altogether.
> To date, 30 years later, the convention has failed because it cannot
> contradict the authority of member states. Meanwhile, the world is
> our common ancient heritage through theft and destruction, poverty,
> development, warfare and sectarian violence. No amount of
> conventions and agreements that proclaim to respect the "collective
> of nationals of the State" can overcome the obstacle of
nationalism, the
> age-old route out of international agreements.
> ...
> Nations that have hosted excavations depend in great part on the
work of
> foreign archaeologists for the raw material of their nationalist
> not to mention the tangible property that fuels their tourism
> Archaeologists, especially those who benefit from working in host
> museums, should examine their support of nationalist retentionist
> property law. Many collections could not have been formed since the
> implementation of these laws.
> Archaeologists should work with museums to counter the nationalist
basis of
> laws, conventions and agreements, and promote a principle of shared
> stewardship of our common heritage. Together we should call
attention to the
> failure of these laws to protect our common ancient heritage and
> of that heritage by claiming the archaeological record as a modern
> cultural property.
> <http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.image?id=10677>
> The recent rise in nationalist and sectarian violence and the
> misunderstanding, even intolerance of other cultures, adds urgency
to the
> need of resolving these differences. Ignorance of the
interrelatedness of
> cultures overlooks that we all have a stake in their preservation.
One need
> only consider the loss of the Gandhara sculptures in the Kabul
Museum -
> which bore reference to the region's historic place at the
crossroads of
> Asia, where Greek, Chinese, Indian, Pagan, Buddhist and Hindu
> influenced one another over centuries - to recognize what we lost
in their
> destruction: sublime evidence of the basic truth of culture: It's
> mongrel, made of numerous and diverse influences from contact with
new and
> strange experiences. This was as true in antiquity as it is as
> ...
> Dave Welsh
> Unidroit-L Listowner
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Unidroit-L
> dwelsh46@...


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