Saturday, July 9, 2011

Obama Appoints Another Archaeologist to CPAC

The Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) is supposed to represent a diversity of opinion, but President Obama's appointments to date only represent one view-- that of archaeologists who want to clamp down on the trade in cultural artifacts.

Indeed, President Obama's latest appointment to CPAC is yet another archaeologist who has advocated for import restrictions before the same Committee on which she will now serve. See and

As the notice reads,

Rosemary A. Joyce, Appointee for Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee

Rosemary Joyce is a professor of anthropology and former chair of the Anthropology Department at the University of California at Berkeley. She is one of the world's leading experts on Honduran archaeology and once served as an Assistant Director of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University and Director of the Hearst Museum at Berkeley. She has served as an officer of the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association, on committees of the Society for American Archaeology and the Archaeological Institute of America, and is a member of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Her research includes comparative study of collections of Honduran archaeological materials in museums in Europe, the United States, and Central America, and historical research on the origins of museums in systematic collecting of objects beginning in the sixteenth century. Professor Joyce received her A.B. from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois-Urbana.

President Obama has protested he is not anti-business, but so far the White House has appointed no one to CPAC who represents the interests of those who actually have to deal with import restrictions on a daily basis. Instead, only academic critics of the trade in cultural artifacts have been appointed. How about appointing some members of the trade (for whom three slots should be reserved under the CPIA)? Or, why not appoint some collectors to the three public slots or museum professionals to the two slots reserved for museum interests? Shouldn't consumers of artifacts subject to restrictions also be represented?

This is not a partisan issue. There are plenty of Obama supporters who collect ancient artifacts, but they may very well be less likely to vote for his reelection if his administration continues its present course of ensuring that an "archaeology over all" perspective dominates CPAC.

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