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Whose Culture?
The Promise of Museums and the Debate over Antiquities
Edited by James Cuno

Book Description | Table of Contents
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"In stressing the multiple meanings--aesthetic, textual, political, ritual--that an object may have, these contributors oppose the claim that art divorced from its archaeological setting is a cosa morta ('dead thing')."--Hugh Eakin, New York Review of Books

"A welcome challenge to repatriation policies underpinned by identity politics. . . . Whose Culture? is a long-needed intervention in the debate about the role of museums. Cultural institutions have been on the defensive for decades, poorly firefighting accusations of didacticism, elitism, colonisation and looting, with ill-thought through mumbling and evasion. . . . Museums need to defend openly their use and purpose and make a strong case for the invaluable role they play in the preservation, presentation and study of artefacts. Cuno does just that."--Tiffany Jenkins, Spiked Magazine

"Far from being an esoteric, jargon-filled look at a debate between archaeologists and collectors of antiquities, these essays, some from conference presentations, some philosophical, and some impassioned, show that the whose-cultural-property debate runs parallel to and intersects other problem areas in the modern world."--N.S. Gill,

"[T]his book should give both sides of the antiquities debate much to think (and talk) about."--William H. Krieger, Religious Studies Review


"Whose Culture? makes the strongest case yet for an internationalist approach to the protection and ownership of ancient cultural heritage, and against its nationalization by modern states on political and ideological grounds. Cuno argues that effective measures against the looting of ancient sites do not require exclusively nationalistic ownership, and that a more enlightened international framework would allow cultural heritage to continue to serve an ambassadorial role as a stimulus to artistic and cultural interaction. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in this increasingly important debate."--Timothy Potts, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

"This book stands in opposition to widespread claims--primarily from the archaeological community--that museums' collecting of ancient works encourages looting and the illegal trade in antiquities. It thus advances what in the current climate is a sectarian position, but one supported by most museum curators and directors. Given the stature of the editor and distinguished contributors, Whose Culture? presents this perspective at the highest level of discussion."--Bruce Altshuler, director of the Program in Museum Studies at New York University

"This is a very timely book. Events like the leveling of criminal charges by the Italian government against a former curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the widespread pillaging of antiquities in Iraq have transformed the longstanding international controversy over who legitimately 'owns' antiquities into a hot topic. This book will provide a basis for informed, intelligent debate."--Jerome J. Pollitt, professor emeritus, Yale University

"A balanced and illuminating overview of a hotly contested issue, Whose Culture? focuses on the debate among museum officials, archaeologists, and government leaders about the movement of insufficiently documented antiquities from their countries of origin to international art markets and the museums of other countries. This is a high-stakes problem for all involved and the book offers a multifaceted discussion about the handling of such antiquities now and policy implications for the future."--Jeffrey Abt, author of A Museum on the Verge

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File created: 4/21/2017

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