Monday, 25 April 2016

Antiquities Collecting: Power Relations and Social Approval

Dr Donna Yates,
photo: Mark Gibson
There is an article in the Scottish Herald focussed on Dr Donna Yates who offers some thoughts on why the present system of dealing with trafficking is failing, and what we need to do about it. Above all though it depends on power relations and social approval:
“The other side is that there is a market for it. There’s a desire to own, to keep for yourself something that others might think should be public and available to everyone. “I’m mostly in this,” she volunteers, “because of the power imbalance between somebody who has a huge amount of financial buying-power, who wants to keep these bits and pieces of the past to themselves, and people who don’t have a strong international voice, who don’t have that power. Translating it to criminology, it’s like white-collar crime versus the masses, but for me, working in the developing world, it’s very poor people being taken advantage of by very rich people.” Ultimately, Donna Yates would like to see the collecting of antiquities become socially unacceptable, “like having a gigantic elephant tusk on your mantle. I want somebody who has, say, Iraqi figurines on their mantle - I want all their fancy dinner-guests to go …” and here she mimics a sharp, disapproving intake of breath. Yes, she concedes, such a collective attitude would require a huge cultural shift. “It will, but I think we’re moving in that direction. At least, I hope we are.”
Russell Leadbetter, 'The expert aiming to make antiquities-collecting socially unacceptable - “like having a gigantic elephant tusk on your mantle"...', The Herald 25th April 2016.

I am not sure many collectors give a flying tinkers about elephants, remember this from not so long ago? 'The "Green" Credentials of Hobby Lobby's Mr Green' PACHI Sunday, 1 November 2015.

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