Friday, July 25, 2008

CPAC, AAMD and Licit Markets

On July 24, 2008, I attended a Cultural Property Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the renewal of the MOU with Honduras. The renewal itself appeared uncontroversial. There were only three speakers, including the First Secretary of the Embassy. She did a good job given the fact that she was only told she was making the presentation that morning. An anthropologist from the University of California, Berkeley supporting the renewal was far better prepared. She arrived with another colleague from Berkeley and a representative of the Society of American Archaeology. Under the circumstances, I could not help but think that they may care more about the renewal of the MOU in Berkeley than they do in Honduras.

Josh Knerly, an attorney who represents the AAMD, made the most interesting presentation. He suggested that Honduras should create licit markets for duplicate archaeological artifacts as one part of a scheme to protect Honduras' culture. I suspect AAMD will put its prepared testimony on its web site in the near future. See

His testimony provoked an extensive interchange between Mr. Knerly and various CPAC members. Here is the flavor of the discussion. Sandy Boyd (museum representive - past director of the Field Museum) agreed with Knerly that the creation of licit markets would be a good idea, but did not think that the US should condition the renewal of the MOU on the commitment to study the issue. Nancy Wilkie (archaeological representative -past AIA President) indicated that she was wary of the creation of licit markets because she believed it would lessen the amount of material available in the public domain for scholars. Bob Korver (trade representative) thought that the renewal of the MOU could and should be conditioned on the creation of licit market within Honduras. Knerly agreed with Korver's view, but at this juncture was only advocating that the creation of licit markets be suggested and not mandated as a condition of any renewal. He also argued that Ms. Wilkie's concerns could be ameliorated if collectors were required to make their collections available to scholars for study.

The AAMD plans to continue to advocate the creation of licit markets in places like Honduras. It will be interesting to see how things develop.


Cultural Property Observer said...

For an archaeologist's view, see:

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