Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Motivations for Collecting Looted Antiquities

Seminar: 'What No Owner Can Complain of Having Lost: Motivations for Collecting Looted Antiquities', 06 Feb 2017, 18:00  Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E Erin Thompson (City University of New York). What makes antiquities collectors behave like selfish bastards:
This talk will trace the long history of the justification of looting archeological objects as a victimless crime. Drawing from letters, diaries, memoirs, interviews, and other sources that reflect the self-perceptions of antiquities collectors, Erin will explain why many modern collectors believe that countries of origin do not deserve to own antiquities, while they themselves possess some special power of understanding of antiquities that gives them a better right to own them. The importance of understanding the role antiquities collecting plays in collectors’ social networks will also be examined. Antiquities collectors throughout history have described the personal friendships with curators and dealers that grew alongside their collections. More intimately still, are the bonds formed on the basis of a shared collecting interest with other collectors, parents, siblings, and even spouses. These social links can prove harmful when they lead collectors to purchase looted antiquities, and understanding collectors’ social networks is key to convincing these collectors to stop collecting in ways that can encourage the destruction of archeological sites and even fund organizations like the Islamic State that are selling looted antiquities to fund their genocidal campaigns.

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