Thursday, March 20, 2014

Against Legal Trade?

The archaeological blogosphere rails against the underground illegal trade in cultural artifacts.  But it also rails against  the legal trade in declared cultural artifacts, suggesting that it's "not sustainable."

But above-board cultural exchange through the legal trade in cultural goods and the cultural understanding it brings should be considered a positive thing, shouldn't it?  Or is the only acceptable "cultural exchange" State Department designed import restrictions that contemplate assured access for archaeologists as a quid pro quo, i.e., special interest programs for connected academics?

2 comments:

John Hooker said...

Peter,

I heard (in the mid sixties) that this sort of material travels back and forth across the Atlantic quite a lot over the decades. Nowadays, the return to the UK of such objects will be somewhat lessened by VAT etc, but the Internet will have countered that effect to a very great degree.

The only way to see the true picture would be to examine both imports and exports over a long time period. The idea of "one way traffic" is silly.

John

Cultural Property Observer said...

Yes, certainly a lot of collectors' coins go back and forth between the US and UK and the US and Germany. There are also lots of collectors in places like Bulgaria. We can no longer legally import most of their coins, but they can still import anything they want from the US and the rest of the EU.