Thursday, 22 November 2012

Flynn on Cuno

Tom Flynn has some pretty cogent words on a video that seems to have had rather few viewers since it was posted up on 6th November 2012: "Museums and Cultural Property Forum with James Cuno and Maxwell Anderson". The timing is a bit odd as the meeting took place at the end of March 2011, before Cuno moved to the Getty. I did not watch it all, I found what Cuno was saying intensely irritating, and its much the same sort of stuff as we've heard and read too many times before.  It seems Tom Flynn found him irritating too ("Your weekend watching: James Cuno on Cultural Property").

I'd like to suggest a thought experiment, imagine Cuno is speaking with a thick eastern European accent and is the director of the encyclopedic museum of Minsk (Belorussia). How does what he says come over then? But surely if he is right in what he says, it does not matter if this is said by an American or Belorussian, or if it does, why does it? What is the basis for his obvious feeling of entitlement? Because he is American? As Tom Flynn notes:
[Cuno] is yet to offer credible reasons why America has a more legitimate right to keep and curate the world's cultural heritage than any other nation. In the absence of those reasons, his championship of encyclopaedic museums as the legitimate Enlightenment-born stewards of the world's cultural heritage will continue to look like nothing less than nationalism of a different sort.
Also I'd like to point out that in his preamble Cuno used the same argument as the coineys. The MOU with China only refers to import restrictions on items which are being imported into the US without any kind of indication of legal export from China.  He also talks about China supporting the US in its efforts to combat Iran and its "nukular" programme (04:42 secs).

I'm not going to embed this stuff in my blog. Follow the link if you really want to know what Cuno said:

Vignette: Neo-colonial ideologies on show.

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