Monday 9 June 2014

Academics "Light Years" Away from Fuller Debate on Portable Heritage Pragmatics

Peter Tompa, representing the International Association of Professional (sic) Numismatists has published a comment on his blog stating that:
 archaeo-bloggers and true academics are light years apart.
Absolutely they are. Those who'd consider themselves "true" academics avoid any real contact with the pragmatics of portable heritage policy, and many of them avoid collectors and metal detectorists/pot hunters specifically (though they'd like to see some of the nice things they hoik out). They see the day to day contact with the nitty-gritty of collecting as something other people can do, not them. Most academics are furthermore totally ignoring the issues, both political and practical, involved in artefact collecting, in fact I'm pretty sure they wish the problem would just quietly disappear so they do not have to think about the difficult  issues and sometimes contradictions involved. I guess they are especially wary of trying to discuss anything in any detail where the only result will be a series of personal attacks from collectors like Mr Tompa and his friends (look at every single one of the comments on the last two months of comments on the "Cultural Property Observer" blog where you will see nothing else). This encourages superficial conciliatory approaches and avoidance of getting any deeper into the subject - which of course is precisely what the pro-collecting lobby want. In fact they are not at all unhappy that "true academics" keep a distance from any discussions in social media (such as archaeological blogs on the issue) of the pragmatics of current policies on collecting. 

The only cultural property observation one can make is that public debate on the heritage in the English-speaking world is in a parlous state because we have allowed it to become dominated by Black Hat Guys misbehaving to avoid proper discussion of their own positions. The longer however this misbehaviour to camouflage irresponsibility  is the most visible characteristic of the debate, the more doubt it raises about the validity of the arguments of those who react to comment and opposing arguments in such a manner. Then, the academics' policy of ignoring the issues itself becomes questionable. If they are avoiding their responsibilities to inform public opinion, just what is it they do for society? 

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