A detailed review of Cuno's book is beyond the scope of this blog. Nevertheless, here are some of Cuno's points.
- Source country nationalism rather than a desire to protect archaeological sites motivates most efforts to seek repatriations or import restrictions.
- Source counties should return to the practice of allowing "partage" in return for help in excavating archaeological sites.
- Archaeologists are dependent on source countries for excavation permits. Self-interest or fear of offending their hosts has led to unqualified support for source country rights over cultural artifacts even when that results in the neglect or destruction of those same artifacts.
- One thing is certain. Whoever made a cultural artifact, it certainly was not made for a modern nation state.
- Some source countries unashamedly assert rights over cultural artifacts of peoples and cultures they actively seek to subvert.
- Encyclopedic museums have become a target for source nations and archaeologists because they stand in opposition to the nationalization of culture.
- The trend of repatriations and import restrictions runs counter to the even more powerful trend of globalism.
Love it or hate it, after reading it, one cannot but help consider Cuno's book to be a valuable addition to the ongoing debate about "who owns the past."