The archaeological blogs are all agog over the news that the EU funded European Research Council has given a 1 million Euro grant to some well known academics with an axe to grind against collectors to sharpen their axe further.
The publicity for the grant does not suggest anything that even remotely resembles academic detachment. For more, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/scotland-blog/2012/feb/13/glasgow-team-gets-1m-grant-to-study-illegal-trade-in-antiquities and http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/4128514/Saviour-of-the-Lost-Ark.html
Under the circumstances, the European Research Council should be embarrassed if its goal really is to fund high quality research into pressing issues, particularly given the tremendous financial problems facing cultural establishments in countries like Greece and Italy. I suspect the money could be better spent helping these countries take care of what they already have rather than to fund yet another study which will just be used to justify more repatriations.
As it is, by the looks of it, this study will have about as much credibility as one funded by big Pharma to justify sales of a new drug, no one actually needs. It is, however, part of a trend. Get a governmental entity to fund an anti-collector study by academics with an axe to grind, and use it to help justify further government action and spending on cultural bureaucracies. Other recent examples include the sole source contract to ICOM to prepare the Egyptian Red list.
Perhaps a governmental entity should fund a study on the damage caused by development, corruption, underfunding, and inept management of cultural resources. Or, what about another about how collectors help preserve and study the past without any government funding whatsoever. Not likely though, as such studies would be an anathema to the nanny state.
For more about the European Research Council, see http://erc.europa.eu/about-erc
Note: There seems to be some confusion in the sources as to whether the grant is for 1 million Euros or 1 million UK Pounds. In any event, this is a lot of money for such a study. By comparison, if memory serves the cost of administering the Portable Antiquity Scheme for an entire year is not a lot more.