Monday 22 July 2013

Hate, or Duff Beer, Rots the Braincells

After one Duff Beer too many, one suspects, Dealer Dave tries to rationalise the findings of Peter B. Campbell in his recent article ("The Illicit Antiquities Trade as a Transnational Criminal Network: Characterizing and Anticipating Trafficking of Cultural Heritage") in International Journal of Cultural Property ("[no title] "Sunday, July 21, 2013). He does not bother to review the text itself, or comment on its conclusions, like the 'scholar', he actually is (like a certain UK metal detectorist on July 9th), he got as far as the "acknowledgements" at the bottom of the first page. Here's what he deduces on that basis:  [my comments in grey, my emphasis in bold]:
The fact that Campbell cites the notoriously radical archaelogy-blogger (and sometime archaeologist) Paul Barford as one of his most important sources speaks for itself [actually Campbel acknowledges by name sixteen people]  

Barford is well known as an extremist of the most bitter, and unnecessarily provocative, stripe. [...] His repetitive and unjustified criticism of the antiquities trade and antiquities collectors is founded not upon laws and regulation, but upon his own unique radical theory: that provenance is essential and that no one should be allowed to possess or trade in unprovenanced antiquities. [actually that is not what I say] This narrow-minded perspective is shared only amongst a small group of the most unreasonably radical archaeologists, amongst whom Michael Mueller-Karpe is a notorious example. [totally off-topic and wandering excursus on the latter]  [...]  Clearly this radical extremist is so far removed from the mainstream of archaeological thinking that his views must be dismissed as irrelevant insofar as cultural property law is concerned. That irrelevance ipso facto completely discredits what Barford, and by extension Campbell, maintain to be the standard of ethics for antiquities collectors and dealers.

So that's it, the dealers' answer to Campbell. Among the people he cites is this heretic radical, so "ipso facto" is completely discredited. No need to read "all those words", eh Dave? Mr Campbell is based at Southampton, one of the centres of archaeological excellence in the UK. Perhaps in a US university in Dealer Dave's experience, reading an archaeoloblog and a few websites and writing an article around them might be considered "deep research", but it seems to me that Mr Campbell cites quite a lot of details independent of the blogs of the people he mentioned in the acknowledgements. Enough, and used in a way which would not prompt me to simply dismiss it out of hand as Dealer Dave attempts to do.

Let us separate questions of ethics (responsibilities) from what is required by the letter of the law. The ACCG clearly equates the two. In many areas of life, including all manner of commerce, they are however not the same, never have been and never will be.

It is hardly "radical" to state that the global antiquities market is the destination of stolen and looted artefacts. It is hardly "radical' to suggest that the looting and smuggling of antiquities is only profitable because people will buy them, either knowingly or unknowingly. What - in reality - is "radical" about that?

I'd be interested to know how one could characterise "mainstream archaeological thinking" on a global scale on the antiquities market and antiquities collecting, in the so-called "source countries" for example, or even in Dealer Dave's own country. The AIA for example - are they, or are they not, representative of US "mainstream archaeological thinking"? Actually I think, like many statements from this milieu, this is more representative of antiquitists' wishful thinking than any real knowledge about archaeology, archaeologists and what archaeologists as a whole think.I suppose it is pretty difficult to get such knowledge if you do not actually read beyond the bottom of the first page on anything, and maybe look at the pictures...


Dave Welsh said...

I suppose that I really ought to be grateful to Mr. Barford because he so diligently reads my blog.

However, the factual accuracy of this post is deficient, rendering it misleading. Barford fails to address the substance of my remarks, sniping in his usual nitpicking fashion at peripheral issues whilst the main thrust of what was said is not considered.

One becomes weary of the tiresoms and repetitive carping that fills his blog and the utterances of those such as Campbell who seek to create a discipline in academia by attacking collectors and the antiquities trade.

Clearly Mr. Barford seeks to set himself up as the arbiter of ethics for antiquities collectors. They have failed to recognize him as such, therefore they are unethical.

Barford writes that to interpret ethics as being that which tghe law requires is inaccurate. I don't disagree, however there must be a firmer basis for ethics than the opinions of one sometime archaeologist.

By the way, I have never consumed Duff beer and have no intention of ever doing so.

Dave Welsh
Chair, ACCG International Affairs Committee

Paul Barford said...

Thank you for that rare comment. I think we can leave it to my, and your, readers to compare what I wrote with what you did, and identify the "substance" of your remarks. I found yours a muddled text concentrating on the personalia rather than what Campbell actually presented. Typical of the intellectual shallowness of the coiney milieu.

You are right to avoid the inferior US-canned Duff, the original European Derfweisser is far less gassy.

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