The international controversy over who "owns" antiquities has pitted museums against archaeologists and source countries where ancient artifacts are found. In his book Who Owns Antiquity?, James Cuno argued that antiquities are the cultural property of humankind, not of the countries that lay exclusive claim to them. Now in Whose Culture?, Cuno assembles preeminent museum directors, curators, and scholars to explain for themselves what's at stake in this struggle--and why the museums' critics couldn't be more wrong. Source countries and archaeologists favor tough cultural property laws restricting the export of antiquities, have fought for the return of artifacts from museums worldwide, and claim the acquisition of undocumented antiquities encourages looting of archaeological sites. In Whose Culture?, leading figures from universities and museums in the United States and Britain argue that modern nation-states have at best a dubious connection with the ancient cultures they claim to represent, and that archaeology has been misused by nationalistic identity politics.
They explain why exhibition is essential to responsible acquisitions, why our shared art heritage trumps nationalist agendas, why restrictive cultural property laws put antiquities at risk from unstable governments--and more. Defending the principles of art as the legacy of all humankind and museums as instruments of inquiry and tolerance, Whose Culture? brings reasoned argument to an issue that for too long has been distorted by politics and emotionalism. In addition to the editor, the contributors are Kwame Anthony Appiah, Sir John Boardman, Michael F. Brown, Derek Gillman, Neil MacGregor, John Henry Merryman, Philippe de Montebello, David I. Owen, and James C. Y. Watt.
James Cuno is president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust and former director of the Art Institute of Chicago. His books include Who Owns Antiquity?: Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage (Princeton).
Acknowledgments ix Introduction by James Cuno 1 Part One: The Value of Museums 37 To Shape the Citizens of "That Great City, the World" by Neil MacGregor 39 "And What Do You Propose Should Be Done with Those Objects?" by Philippe de Montebello 55 Whose Culture Is It? by Kwame Anthony Appiah 71 Part Two: The Value of Antiquities 87 Antiquities and the Importance--and Limitations--of Archaeological Contexts by James C. Y. Watt 89 Archaeologists, Collectors, and Museums by Sir John Boardman 107 Censoring Knowledge: The Case for the Publication of Unprovenanced Cuneiform Tablets by David I. Owen 125 Part Three: Museums, Antiquities, and Cultural Property 143 Exhibiting Indigenous Heritage in the Age of Cultural Property by Michael F. Brown 145 Heritage and National Treasures by Derek Gillman 165 The Nation and the Object by John Henry Merryman 183 Select Bibliography 205 Contributors 209 Index 213