Sunday, 6 July 2014

Completely Bonkers

The two types of heritage theft, one criminal
and relatively small-scale, one legal and massive
 Communist propaganda or the plain truth?
(courtesy: Heritage Action)

"It's usually safe to ignore anything US detectorists say about UK detecting as their lack of knowledge is obvious", writes Nigel Swift ('Americans warned that conservation is a communist plot!', July 6th 2014). "However", he adds: I'd like
to correct a blatant piece of misinformation just offered to them by an English detectorist as I suspect it refers partly to us. He talks of "the dictum of archaeology’s ‘Hard Left’ faction" (that'll be us no doubt, we're often portrayed as commies or Nazis) "who promote the notion that all land, artefacts, and collectibles should belong to the People".
On the Cultural Property Observer (run by a lobbyist representing the IAPN and PNG) there is speculation on why archaeologists appear to favour a "State Owns Everything" model due to "their politics and allegiances" and "life would be like if these Stalinists ever came to power" ("the gulags would be full of 'coineys' and detectorists"). Swift counters these rabid fantasises:
Now if you're in Britain you'll know that's nonsense as neither we nor anyone else advocate nationalisation of land or artefacts or collectables, [...] We don't even advocate the nationalisation of historical knowledge - for the simple reason it already belongs to the public!
He goes on to point out that the notion "that just as nighthawks are artefact thieves, so non-reporting detectorists are knowledge thieves - who cause far more cultural damage" has failed to be taken up by anyone.
So Britain will no doubt remain bonkers and history-taking will continue on an industrial scale despite both sides knowing perfectly well it's avoidable and profoundly wrong...
So bonkers that the activities of the anti-preservationist lunatic fringe fail to raise an eyebrow there.  Apparently, though, it is not the only place in the collecting world where there is a deficit of critical reflection.

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