Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Corruption and the Archaeological Lobby's Models

It's interesting to see where the archaeological lobby's models stack up on Transparency International's 2012 Corruption Perception Index:  Bulgaria-75; China-80; Cyprus-29; Egypt-118, Greece-94; Italy-72 and Turkey-54. 

The higher the number, the higher the perception of corruption.  Denmark is No. 1 as the least corrupt country while No.174, Somalia, is perceived as most corrupt.

While Cyprus' rank of 29 would seem at first blush to be fairly good, at least some commentators suggest that Cypriots themselves think their government is more corrupt than Transparency International's experts believe.  

It's interesting that these countries also have very restrictive export controls for cultural property.  One might suspect that such controls merely provide an opportunity for corrupt officials to profit from the system.

Why does the archaeological lobby continue to see such corrupt systems as models for cultural heritage protection?  Or are they somehow suggesting the cultural bureaucracies in these countries are far cleaner than government in general?  And, if so, what is their basis for any such claim?


Cultural Property Observer said...

Peter, please post this, since I still seem unable to get into your site:

"Peter, congratulations for exposing the perception of corruption in source countries. It is certainly the case that theft and robbery of national assets are everywhere to be seen, and it's not just corrupt customs officials but museum directors who sell from their own store rooms. I have several objects that were sold to me by a museum official in a source country -- he even offered to provide certificates of export! -- so I am sure they are legal in every sense of the word. I am happy to have these things and believe my buying them can establish a model for others.

What could possibly be better than to have private collectors buy up material that corrupt officials want to sell, and keep them for posterity or donation to museums (say in the US), that will treasure them, exhibit them, make them available for scholars, and make certain they do not deteriorate due to inattention and bad care? I suggest the creation of a large private acquisition fund that will provide an inducement for corrupt source country officials to find more material to sell, that would bring more interesting objects into our own hands. This will drive our friend in Poznan crazy, and cause his fingers to bleed while he types out some long-winded, off the rails response, but that is all to the better. He is a laughing stock, as I believe I mentioned at an earlier point, and if he chooses to make himself ridiculous, why should we not hold his jacket while he does?

Keep up the good work.


kyri said...

hi peter,the title says it all"perceptions"is the key one really knows what the coruption is in any given seem to be thrown by cyprus being only 29th in the table and not 129th and so in one breath your saying,look at these figures,source countrys are all corrupt and than in the very next paragraph your saying ,well these figures might be pie in the sky because cypriots think their government is more corrupt than this index indicates.
as for arthurs comment,this index had nothing to do with the "perception of corruption in source countrys",antiquities/ ancient coins have no bearing at all on this index and trying to marry the two is ridiculous.for a very inteligent man,that i know he is,arthur says the most stupid things sometimes,
"what could possibly be better than to have private buyers buy up material that corrupt officials want to sell" by this logic it would be ok for me to buy the rosetta stone or the liberty bell.
sure you get corrupt officials in source countrys as you do in the us and the uk.we recently had a big issue in the uk of our mps claimiing hundreds of thousands of pounds in expenses,for rents that were not being paid and other things that if it happend in somalia you would find it hard to for cyprus i have lived there and it is no more corrupt than the uk but the people are very devided politically between the left and right and whatever government is in power they will allways be accused of corruption by the other side so any survey conducted there has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Hi Kyri--I suspect Arthur was joking about this. As for corruption and cultural heritage, the AIA has pumped up cultural heritage bureaucracies in places like Italy and Greece, but I have to suspect they have the same problmes other parts of these governments have.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Please post this:

Peter, the Poznan artifact guy fell for my last comment entirely, hook line and sinker. If dementia is the inability to distinguish between fact and fiction, there can be no better example of it. I have heard a number of horse laughs already today. Poor bumbler. Should we let him know that the "illicit" cultural property in question involved a few locally made dresses and scarves that my director friend hoped my wife would buy? Poor bumbler. Took the bait, the hook, the line and the sinker. Loud laughter and a Bronx Cheer to the fellow.

Warm regards,