Saturday, 24 September 2011

Truth Neglect Among the Lobbyists

It "makes little sense" to cultural property dealers' lobbyist Peter Tompa ("Afghan Neglect") "to repatriate minor artifacts to a country when so little has been done to preserve the major sites that should really matter to the culture". This is because he's found an old article which suggests that ancient sites and monuments in Afghanistan are in a parlous position. But far from the actual emphasis of what the collector depicts as "national governments and archaeological groups like the AIA [...] harassing collectors and museums" being repatriation issues, it's about preventing the ongoing stealing and looting. There is a huge difference - though of course dealers' lobbyists might see a reason for their side to blur the issue. After all, in the past they opposed US legislation intended to curb this.

It is also symptomatic of the neo-colonialist attitudes that underlie US collecting that the lobbyist judges what priorities others set by their own standards, without of course any concurrent attempt to suggest how the more "enlightened nations" (like their own) can help - except relieve them of some of the more collectably-desirable artefacts.

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