Saturday, 10 March 2018

PAS Not Only needs to Apologise, But Start Taking Heritage Protection Seriously

I endorse this wholeheartedly (Heritage action, 'PAS: apology awaited' Heritage Journal 10th March 2018). Readers may recall that there was an incident  with an FLO on the 5th of March who apparently thought threatening behaviour and 'escalation' were appropriate techniques of liaison and dispute resolution. To judge from her subsequent actions, it seems she is still of that opinion when it comes to her colleagues, though the whole question behind this difference of opinion is how the same people relate to collectors who pocket the past:
 A Finds Liaison Officer has called us thieves: “As someone who I know is keen to mitigate the ‘theft’ of the historic environment, it would be a shame to show any sort of hypocrisy when it comes to theft of another’s digital content after all.” It’s nonsense. We’re perfectly entitled to have published a small part of an image that was already in the public domain. But what really upsets us is that we’ve been fighting massive information theft by detectorists since before most FLOs left school yet we’re falsely accused of theft whereas detectorists constantly publish PAS images with never a squeak of protest! 
Please note the scare quotes on the word theft, presumably if you are an FLO you are not allowed to  conceptualise the Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record as in any way relating to one group of people taking something away from another.

HA point out that all the while PAS are busy 'looking at the pictures' and reacting to something they see on HA's blog within hours, they have been highlighting clear cases of abuse and observing the total lethargy with which that is treated by the PAS and archaeological community as a whole. Not even a tut-tut, but instead an embarrassed silence and shuffling of feet. After all, these collectors are the people Bloomsbury calls 'partners' and Bloomsbury even tries (falsely) to convince the public stakeholder that collection-driven pilferers of the past are in some way only 'citizen archaeologists'. In their post, HA they quote an example of not-best practice (not for the first time) and challenge the chair-bound PAS to get up off their backsides and do something about it on the ground. Don't hold your breath though.
 For the avoidance of all doubt: we are a non-profit making voluntary conservation body being threatened with a £200 publication charge yet we’ve stolen nothing and earned nothing while PAS’s “partners” have stolen massive amounts of heritage knowledge and earned tens of millions of pounds – as PAS knows very well! An apology from PAS Head Office would be nice.
They then picture a Wildlife Liaison Officer and suggest that these officers exhibit professional behaviour that’s a world away from his Finds equivalent. Having myself had the dubious pleasure of  contact with the 'professional' concerned and an official in the museum that employs her, I am inclined to agree.

Vignette: Anger management issues? Seek help. 

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