Wednesday 7 April 2010

"Cultural Internationalists and Cultural Nationalists" in Iowa

Derek Fincham posted up a text called Student Note on "Cultural Pragmatism" announcing that
Matthew Hoffman, J.D. candidate at the University of Iowa has an article, Cultural Pragmatism: A New Approach to the International Movement of Antiquities, 95 Iowa L. Rev 667 (2010). Here is his abstract: ABSTRACT: Since World War II, the debate between cultural internationalists and cultural nationalists has shaped international cultural-property law [...].
I stopped reading right there. This is not the terminology of a neutral account reflecting a deeper understanding of the matters at issue. Those who call themselves "cultural internationalists" and use the term "cultural nationalists" as a pejorative label for their opponents are the advocates of the indiscriminate trade in ancient artefacts rejecting the concerns as those that lie behind the 1970 UNESCO Convention. These commercial opportunists in any case are not interested in any "debate", as they have several times made abundantly clear.

Anyway clicking on the link Fincham gives, according to my computer anyway, leads to a damaged file, so even if I wanted to, I cannot see online what the editorial board of the Iowa Legal Review saw fit to publish about this issue and what words of wisdom about "cultural pragmatism" I am missing by not hiking down to the library to find it.

From the abstract it appears that "this new approach, defined here as “cultural pragmatism”..." actually consists of adhering to the 1970 UNESCO Convention... Sad to hear it referred to in the US as a "new" idea.

UPDATE: David Gill has sacrificed a bit of his time to seeing if the article is as lacking in promise as the abstract suggested to me. He discusses his conclusions on Looting Matters. Yes, Mr Hoffmann, looting matters.


David Gill said...

I did sit down and worked my way through this but I was disappointed with Hoffman's lack of reading on the subject. He was unaware of the literature on the returns to Italy.
Best wishes

David Gill said...

For a response to Hoffman see Looting Matters.

Anonymous said...

The pdf opens just fine on my computer. I can email it to you if you want, but it works even from your link.

Paul Barford said...

Nope, still cannot open it.

Probably my computer loves me too much and is protecting me and my blood pressure from reading articles which contain bits like (according to David Gill's brief account) the American museum community has some "future ability to obtain new artifacts at risk" (what?) and the same American museum community needs "to take action before more source countries chose broad patrimony laws over bilateral agreements and other forms of cooperation" (WHAT?) Take Action?. Phew.

Marcus Preen said...

I wouldn't worry about your blood pressure, you can obviously stand up to quite a lot of aggravation - I've just read Mr Sayles' piece "Dealing with the Mentally Fixated Ideologue" aimed at you no doubt - .... Cor blimey.

Amazing that he can write that "Like most sociopaths, the MFI feels no sense of guilt or shame for inflicting harm on others" while cheerfully making money by importing coins that he has openly admitted he isn't certain aren't looted! Does he think that inflicts no harm on others (like me and 60 million others in Britain, for instance?!)? No he doesn't!

Paul Barford said...

Well, that's another transatlantic example of "cultural pragmatism" isn't it?

He's probably on a mission to "save" items "in danger" like the rest of them claim to be.

I discussed the MFI article somewhere here a while back.

Anonymous said...

"He's probably on a mission to "save" items "in danger" like the rest of them claim to be."


Oooh look, a busload of Sayles's on a mission from Wales to Wiltshire to "save" stuff, heroes all.

No sociopaths there, eh? Well, only some. I wonder who'll buy their booty?

Anonymous said...

Gill points out the problem: confusion between "repatriation" (= "nationalism") and preservation of context right now.

But anyway there is something patronizing about US collector mentality speaking of "nationalism" to denigrate a sense of history and of place.

Paul Barford said...

I agree John. As you will know on this blog I have mused about whether we will ever see them apply the ideas about what "foreigners" are doing to try and protect archaeological remains in their territory to what the US does to try and protect the archaeological heritage in the soil of the United States of America. It seems to me that there is a vast contradiction in their few statements on the latter and what they would impose on those nasty "foreign governments" in the "source countries". Let them first get their standpoint fully accepted as applicable to the archaeological heritage at home before they attempt to impose it on the rest of the world. Do you see them taking even the smalest step in that direction John? I do not. Yet another challenge these Glenbeckian posers will fail to face up to.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. I recommend it to all my students

Anonymous said...

Why, in any case, do museums need new objects, new acquisitions ? Which Hoffmann looks at as a legitimate factor (leading to museums "taking measures" before the "nationalist laws" become too widespread).

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