Saturday, February 1, 2014

They Are Out to Get You

Or, so it would seem from this report about a confab of cultural bureaucrats, academics and cops that took place back in September in the Hague.  There is nothing wrong with States seeking to protect their own archaeological sites and items of cultural significance.  But that should not be confused with draconian measures aimed at controlling everything old or targeting foreigners for dealing in the exact same cultural goods that are openly available at home.  Unfortunately, that's just what the "activists" commended in the report advocate.  Why not instead adopt a balanced but fair approach like that found in the United Kingdom?  CPO would rather have the UK seen as a model rather than the favorites of these activists, countries like Cyprus, Greece and Italy.


Wayne G. Sayles said...

The problem with the UK system, from a Cultural Property Nationalist's view is that it gives more than just lip service to individual rights. Most countries with nationalistic governments are loathe to recognize any rights beyond those that they usurp for themselves. Those in positions of power typically create repressive laws or regulations on a wide scale and then ignore those controls themselves when the needs of convenience or patronage intervene. That scenario might have a familiar ring to "Coineys" in the US. Put a bunch of these folks in a room together and give them an impressive or incomprehensible title and you fan the flames of National Socialism. Since PB is bound to go on another rant about my "Nazi" slurs, let me refer anyone who cares to "Archaeology Under Dictatorship", Galaty and Watkinson eds. where that very subject is discussed in no less than five of the essays. Another unbiased treatise supporting that view is "The Nation and its Ruins" (Oxford University Press) by archaeologist Yannis Hamilakis. What happened at the Hague looks to me like window dressing for the main event. I hope I'm wrong. I'd rather be remembered as a "Coiney" than a prophet.

Paul Barford said...

" The problem with the UK system, from a Cultural Property Nationalist's view is that it gives more than just lip service to individual rights."

So why is it not applied in the US?

Supporting US collectors rights surely implies scrapping the restrictive ARPA and replacing it by a liberty-loving-England-style Treasure Act. Then we would see the US public benefiting from the artefacts in sites on public lands.

Surely this would be a move - given what it continually advocates - the ACCG can do nothing but support 100%.

Do they?

Paul Barford said...

Here, on a detecting blog near you is a timely "discussion" (I use the term loosely) under the title "Who WANTS a PAS here"? Here being the USA:

It seems that the US metal detectorists commenting are eager to find excuses why, if such a Scheme were set up in the USA, few detectorists would actually work with it.

So, what makes Mr Tompa and the ACCG think that artefact hunters in any other antiquity source country would be any more keen than those of the US voluntarily to collaborate in such a scheme?

How about the ACCG International Affairs Committee initiate a series of parallel discussions on metal detecting forums in Bulgaria, Italy, Greece and wherever else the AGGC proposes should adopt a PAS-like system, to judge interest of the people on the ground in the American proposal? Indeed, since they have been keenly making this proposal for a number of years, why have they not done this yet ?

Cultural Property Observer said...

ACCG has limited resources and we have already done what we can to promote the PAS etc.