Monday 19 April 2010

How Dare They?

The last nine or ten days since the plane crash in Smolensk which killed 96 people has been very distressing for all of us in Poland specially those who lost relatives or friends in this disaster. The past weekend however saw the beginning of the end of the official period of mourning, though the effects on lives will be painfully felt for much longer.

Saturday and Sunday saw the President's funeral. As we watched the procession carry the coffin from the lying in state to be taken first to the cathedral and then to Kraków for interment in the crypt of the old royal cathedral there, we who were there were very much aware of being witnesses to "history in the making".

President Kaczynski, commentators reminded us was very aware of the role of the nation's history in cementing the bonds within society. He was the initiator of several initiatives in this regard, most notably the innovative museum to the Warsaw Uprising. As a Pole involved in the history-writing of the region, one might have reservations, even many reservations, as a professional to the brands of public history that society accepts. That is in the nature of the debate which is fundamental to modern historiography, which is not only permissable but desirable. What is not at all desirable however is a group of outsiders, a commercial interest group attempting to dictate what we or any other foreign nation should regard as our history, dressing their attempts to thrust their own wishes, their own pseudo-histories on other nations, trying to mask their own commercial greed, as some form of "superior" ideology called "cultural property Internationalism" which attempts to negate the rights of communities to claim the cultural heritage of the region where they live as their own. How dare they? Just who do these collectors think they are?

Photo: Pawel Kopczynski, Reuters


Alfredo De La Fe said...

How dare YOU limit cultural identity in such a way? Who or what gives you the right or authority to dictate the limits and bounderies of cultural identity and heritage? The days of segregation are long past, you claim to be an archaeologist, but that is no reason for you to live in a bubble in time.

Paul Barford said...

Umm, I live here? What an extraordinary comment to make.

What "identity" would somebody like you want to take on buying illegally exported cultural property from a "source country" like mine?

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