Monday, June 06, 2011

Shock, cajole, and embarrass

Hugh Eakin has written a response to Chasing Aphrodite ("What Went Wrong at the Getty", New York Review of Books June 23, 2011). Eakin's sympathy appears to rest with the North American museums and collectors who seem to have been happy to build their collections with recently surfaced material in spite of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and (a little closer to home) the 1973 Archaeological Institute of America declaration (the benchmark that I have used in my research with Christopher Chippindale).

Italian authorities have adopted an approach that avoided the courts to reclaim objects and for Eakin this was a tactic designed to "shock, cajole, and embarrass". However the decision to bring the curator of a leading North American museum before Italian court is likely to have sent a chill through many curatorial hearts. Eakin notes, with a little sense of disapproval, the way that newspapers were enlisted to support Italian claims; perhaps he should have also commented on the use of new media.

More at Looting Matters