Friday, January 16, 2015

Let's Blame White Collectors for Looting...

So says archaeologist/blogger Donna Yates.  According to Yates,

“It’s a situation in which extremely rich and wealthy white people take complete advantage of people who can’t fight back, and then blame them for it. I see it as double victimisation – these people are not only having their property taken from them, they are having their ability to construct their own identities taken from them by people who have all this power, who don’t even consider it to be a problem.”

Yet, Yates herself almost came to harm from Bolivian villagers who could very well have been angry that "white" foreign archaeologists show up for a few months a year, "steal" valuable artifacts that could otherwise be sold for necessities like food and then haul them off for an uncaring national government that, of course, shows little concern when local "rich and wealthy white people" build up stupendous collections of such material.  

Instead of blaming "white collectors" for looting, archaeology would be better served if "white archaeologists" addressed the abject poverty that motivates looting by paying local diggers they employ a living wage, paying for site guards in the long off-season, and ensuring significant items they find stay and get displayed in local communities rather than being packed off to store rooms in some far off national museum.  And yes, really what's wrong with selling off some duplicates for the benefit of the local community after they have been properly recorded?

1 comment:

John H said...

I have to say Mr Tompa, that in my view Ms Yates is a shining example of the Junior Common Room politics evident in some archaeological nooks and crannies.

There is an abundance of evidence that shows heritage crime is not the sole preserve of dastardly 'whites,' rich or otherwise.

Idi Amin, Pol Pot, ISIS, and Robert Mugabe, spring to mind.

Best regards

John Howland