Thursday, 1 November 2012

Antiquities trade in Nigeria: Looting in the midst of crisis

Samarkeolog has a post on 'Antiquities trade in Nigeria: Looting in the midst of crisis', November 1, 2012. Good stuff as usual, not sure about this bit though:
African nations’ cultural objects have been harvested by foreign powers; attacked by religious movements and political factions; and, sometimes under duress, reduced to commodities and sacrificed for subsistence or survival [...] In addition to these activities, communities have been gouged by economic forces; they have been forced to tear their archaeological heritage out of the ground and sell it in order to subsist.
So why looting and not prostitution, nicking cellphones or selling kidneys? I do not think anyone is "forced" to sell knocked-off Nok heads or dugup pots, it surely is a choice. We too easily impose our own ideas of "heritage" on people to whom it is basically a foreign concept - see C.A. Folorunso, 'The Practice of Archaeology in Nigeria' pp 807-826 in L. Lozny 'Comparative Archaeologies: A Sociological View of the Science of the Past' (Springer 2011:ISBN:9781441982247), a book I recently had the misfortune to review.

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