Saturday, 18 April 2015

More on Antiquitist Neocolonialism

"Ultimately the only way to stop the
destruction of Iraq and Syria’s cultural heritage
is to stop the destruction of Iraq and Syria" Christopher Jones.
The antiquities trade and its supporters, especially those from across the Atlantic are calling for military action to counteract (retaliate for) destruction of cultural property, from Arthur Houghton, Hugh Eakin and now - invoking the responsibility to protect - we have fresh notions of imposing western will from Ann Marlowe. Bodybags against mudbrick and sculpted stone. As Christopher Jones in an excellent Hyperallergic essay ('In Battle Against ISIS, Saving Lives or Ancient Artifacts' April 17, 2015) argues:
There is nevertheless something deeply unsettling about calls to kill to protect cultural heritage, especially when tens of thousands of human beings have been massacred, tortured, raped, and enslaved by ISIS and millions more are refugees. What does it say about our values when the destruction of priceless yet nevertheless inanimate objects takes urgency over protecting the lives of human beings? Are ancient artifacts, no matter how valuable, ever worth taking a human life for, even if that human being is a member of ISIS? And is there anything more reminiscent of 19th-century colonialism than Western intervention in a country to secure its ancient artifacts while ignoring the suffering of its living population?

Vignette: guns not the answer to everything.

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