Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Christmas Truce

Evidently, there is an element within the archaeological community that thinks it is entirely appropriate to ridicule American citizens and others who have responded to the US State Department's invitation to comment on the proposed renewal of the Cypriot MOU. See

Shame on them and their efforts to suppress any public opinion against the "archaeology over all" perspective. And shame on the other archaeological blogs that link to them and hence promote their views.


elmo iscariot said...

...the "archaeology over all" perspective.

Treading dangerously close to Godwin territory there.

I'm on your side, and it badly rubbed me the wrong way.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Well, sorry, but what would be good shorthand for a view which proclaims protection of archaeological context of greater importance than most any other interest?

And shouldn't you be "rubbed the wrong way" by what was the subject of the original post?

elmo iscariot said...

Again, I agree with you. I'm simply passing on a gentle note that, at least to my ear, the phrase you chose is reminiscent of one commonly associated in the US with Nazism. If it sounds the same to other ears, it may undermine your credibility.

By way of analogy, while I'm very concerned with the property rights you're advocating on this blog, I'm more personally invested in the gun rights issue. Among some gun rights advocates, it's become fashionable to compare anti-gun organizations with the KKK. Intellectually, I see the point they're making and don't think the precise point they're trying to make is wrong, but emotionally, they stand to alienate readers they might otherwise reach.

Cultural Property Observer said...

This is off point and the article you cite is a bit ambiguous. If you don't like my characterization of the archaeological position, why don't you suggest some alternate shorthand that conveys the view posed that archaeological concerns should be paramount?

I collect coins, not guns, and I'm not sure this is precisely a property rights issue or a right-left issue, but rather a fairness issue and whether one academic group has the rights to call the tune on "who owns the past."

elmo iscariot said...

That's interesting; it doesn't strike me as a right/left issue (and I'm hardly right-wing) but from my point of view, it looks like a clear issue of the property rights of the collector to buy and own what makes him happy, balancing against the archaeology lobby's (unpersuasive) insistence that a public good is served through restrictions. It's always fascinating to see how similar conclusions can come from very different assumptions.

In any case, I didn't mean to make such a big thing out of this. You clearly don't think the implication I took is one you need to worry about from most readers, and you're the one who has the experience messaging this issue. Best of luck, and I hope you get the right people on the right side of it.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Thank you. Happy holidays. On reflection, you are correct. This can be viewed as a property rights issue from a conservative perspective. Jim Cuno has viewed the issue from a different perspective of universalism in his various books.

If you want more background, also take a look at this interesting discussion that took place in Congress.

As for Nazism, others have thrown out that analogy directly, but though there is an element of cultural nationalism in the archaeological position, and they don't like people collecting even common artifacts, their views have little in common with a hyper nationalistic racist ideology of national socialism. I certainly have not made the Nazi archaeologist comparison and don't intend to do so by my archaeology over all shorthand. Perhaps there is soemthing else to call it, archaeological primacy, perhaps, but that is not as catchy.

elmo iscariot said...

Perhaps there is soemthing else to call it, archaeological primacy, perhaps, but that is not as catchy.

I probably would have said "elitist busybodies", but that's not specific enough for your needs. ;)