Saturday, September 6, 2008

Penn Cultural Heritage Center

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has set up the "Penn Cultural Heritage Center." This seems to be another, but potentially well funded, effort to spread the gospel according to the archaeological community:

This is what the Penn Cultural Heritage Center plans to do:

Education and outreach programming for diverse audiences, including law enforcement, customs officers, lawyers, policymakers, and academics involved in cultural property protection and issues—as well as community stakeholders and the general public. The Center has built upon earlier Museum training programs with United States officers to help stop the illicit movement of antiquities. Plans for a yearly Continuing Legal Education course on cultural heritage and a Speakers Series for the public are underway.

Consultation on national and international policy issues, working with Ministries of Culture and other governmental groups to develop a holistic approach in the management of cultural heritage at local, national, and international levels. The Center is currently consulting with agencies in Mali, Montenegro, and Honduras, with long-range plans to build this capacity.

Conferences, with opportunities for in-depth dialog, publication, and, where appropriate, concluding public presentations. A first such conference, exploring indigenous views of cultural heritage, features prominent native scholars and activists from North and South America, will run the week of September 29, with a public program on October 4.

Other areas of development for the Center include community development and the integration of community involvement in archaeological programs and site protection; museum collaborations on a national and international scale, with a focus on developing best practices related to heritage issues; and the development of an expert network of archaeologists versed in cultural heritage law and ethics issues surrounding cultural heritage. The PCHC will launch a public website, within the Penn Museum’s site, by the end of 2008.The Penn Cultural Heritage Center is supported by funding from the Provost’s Office of the University of Pennsylvania and from private donors.

It will be interesting to learn more about the Center's programs and funding sources (particularly if the Center plans in the future to solicit monies from government sources like the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs or from activist "source countries" like Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Egypt). It will also be interesting to learn whether the Center's programs will encourage any real debate over these complex issues.

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