Sunday, 18 November 2018

Durham University: Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage

The blurb says that the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage (CECH):
focuses upon the ethical debates surrounding cultural heritage, in particular relations with indigenous peoples; professional standards and responsibilities; ethical codes; notions of value; concepts of stewardship and custodianship; the meaning and moral implications of ‘cultural heritage'; who ‘owns' the past or the interpretation of it; roles and responsibilities of museums; the trade in antiquities; opportunities and problems associated with tourism; and the treatment of human remains (including repatriation). A collaborative research centre, it involves academics and practitioners from the Departments of Archaeology, Anthropology, Philosophy and Law with the intention of creating long-term interdisciplinary research projects, links and publications. It also aims to provide professional training and consultancy to external bodies, and to create new learning and teaching tools within the university. Since November 2014, the Centre also hosts, jointly with the Department of Archaeology, the UNESCO Chair in in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, which is held by Professor Robin Coningham. It was the first UK archaeology chair, and aims to shape debates on professional standards and responsibilities; legal and ethical codes and values; concepts of stewardship and custodianship; research ethics and illicit antiquities; and the social, ethical and economic impacts of the promotion of heritage, particularly at religious and pilgrimage sites.
So far, it has been going four years and its main focus recently seems related to the themes of heritage and travel/tourism and the area of interest being mainly Nepal, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and other areas of India. There seem to have been no publications produced by the Centre itself. Artefact hunting and those illicit antiquities seem not to have been discussed much - not even in the context of India, which is odd given the publicity temple thefts, for example, in that region have received.

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