Re: [Ancientartifacts] Who Owns the Past?

Dave Welsh omitted the bit where the Yale scholar noted:
> UNESCO failed to protect the Baghdad Museum
> and the archaeological record of that vital part of
> the 
ancient world. <
UNESCO's Secretary of State for World War Onrold Umsfeld quipping at the time "stuff happens". That the Iraqi state became after the UNESCO invasion a "divided, failed state" was of course a direct consequence of the Umsfeld Doctrine ("just enough troops to lose") rather than the situation in the sovereign state UNESCO decided unilaterally to invade in persuit of its own NATIONAL interests (sic).  
These classical antiquities in the US museums and other US collections, are they not used in identity construction too? What do the collecting activities of US collectors and museums tell us about their own national policies and hangups? It seems to me the US writers are all too keen to see these various negative phenomena only when they are portrayed as those of foreigners and getting in the way of their own needs, forgetting perhaps that to us over this side of the Atlantic, THEY are the foreigners.
Let's read those words again about "government" with the US oligarchy  in mind... "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" yes which is why you'll find the paintings in the town museum, but the native american artefacts... well, in one US town I visited, they were in.. the NATURAL HISTORY museum. 
How big a section does Mr Montebello's New York museum have for Native American cultures? It many not have Nok art, but how much can those 4.5 million visitors annually learn from his "universal collections" about the Nootka or Narragansett ?
But of course the current 'multicultural' state in the southern chunk of the North American continent does not see itself so much as having an identity in those extinct cultures which the settlers from the Old World displaced. It needs to affirm its connections with other geographically distant cultural  Urheimats - hence the desire to drain as much of the portable relics of those cultures over the seas, as many as dollars can buy. 
I think when Cuno writes "all humanity" he has in mind a rather narrower section of global society than his words imply. It is clear that in fact he is mainly concerned with the interests of the individuals in his own country with money to buy that which has been taken from others, whose rights he presumes to question (regarding his own as more important). Why can he not be honest enough to say so instead of dressing it up in transparent John-boy Walton style pseudo philosophy? Is that the best Yale can produce ? Yuk.
Paul Barford

----- Original Message -----
From: Dave Welsh
To: 'Unidroit-L' ; 'Ancientartifacts'
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 12:20 PM
Subject: [Ancientartifacts] Who Owns the Past?

James Cuno contends that antiquities from great cultures belong to humanity,
not nation states that emerged centuries later[...]

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