Friday, May 9, 2008

Owning history

Afarensis reviews James Cuno's Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage and I could scarcely agree more with this statement from the book:

All cultures are dynamic, mongrel creations, interrelated such that we all have a stake in their preservation. National retentionist cultural property laws deny this basic truth. They depend on the myth of pure, static, distinct, national cultures. And not just about living cultures, but about ancient cultures, too. They define and seek to regulate access to ancient cultures on the grounds that they belong to the modern nation as the work of its descendents and the origins of its modern culture and identity. They promote a sectarian view of culture and encourage the politics of identity at a time when nationalism and sectarian violence are resurgent in the world.
Well said.

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