Sunday, 17 April 2016

Jungian Interpretation of Archaeology: Academic/Nationalist Ghetto

In something pompously called 'A prolegomenon to Jungian archaeology: conclusion', artefact collector, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and amateur psychology buff John Hooker, makes an attempt to redefine what archaeology "should" be. He describes what he sees as an "academic/ nationalist ghettoizing of archaeology" a characterisation which seems totally oblivious to a pretty huge chunk of the academic writing of - oh - at least the last forty years. One wonders just who is in this ghetto, the global discipline or the antiquarian fellow who - like most collectors - cannot work out how to use a proper library. Hooker FSA portrays archaeology as a parasite and scavenger, acting:
"for other groups such as those with political motives who use nationalism in order to obtain a subservient population and to provide troops whenever needed; and through political/economic shenanigans such with the structure of the US memoranda of understanding on "heritage" issues whereby protection is granted through the offering of secret "perks" to the applying country. These perks are kept secret because they often consist of deals that would not be supported by the majority of the public were they to know all of the details".
I rather think if US Customs (for it is they who are the actors here) were to release proper details of the trade in artefacts (names, trade contacts and details of the activities of the sellers they quietly relieve of dodgy goods), we would see just how much "support" the antiquities dealers would have. Playing the victim comes easily to dealers, collectors and their claquers, taking responsibility for the market never does.

As for the ills of nationalism which archaeologists are supposedly party to: "Canadian nationalism seeks to promote the unity, independence, and well-being of Canada and Canadians". Is it at all a rational statement to suggest that it is there "to obtain a subservient population and to provide troops whenever needed"? I hardly think that is the main purpose of the people who support their nation's interests, not even in far-off Canada (where Mr Hooker lives).

The Antiquarian Fellow and collector sees archaeology as involved in a nefarious campaign of "public indoctrination", the function of which is to allow universities to utilise archaeology as a way of generating income:
such as with creating courses on art crime where, if such courses were genuine, would probably require previous accreditations in international law, criminology and at least a strong working familiarity with the international art market. Such courses act a bit like a Ponzi scheme where the subterfuge is only realized when the graduates find it impossible to get jobs and the word gets out.
It is a good job isn't it that there are no such fake art-crime courses in Canada, and of course the one in Glasgow, due to where it is sited in the University system there can hardly be so described. I would say the calibre of the team of staff there vis-a-vis their familiarity with the international art market (MacKenzie, Brodie, Yates, Tsirogiannis etc) makes them far more competent commentators on the subject than the lone amateur Mr Hooker FSA. What nonsense some of these Antiquaries write.

Vignette: "Ills of nationalism": John Hooker's Canada profiting from WW1

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