Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"To what culture does the concept of 'cultural property' belong?"

In today's New York Times, Edward Rothstein writes about James Cuno's "Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle Over Our Ancient Heritage" (mentioned earlier here):

"Seen in this light the very notion of cultural property is narrow and flawed. ... It may be useful as a metaphor, but it has been more commonly used to consolidate cultural bureaucracies and state control. But if cultural property really did exist, the Enlightenment museum would be an example of it: an institution that evolved, almost uniquely, out of Western civilization. And the cultural property movement could be seen as a persistent attempt to undermine it."

Derek Fincham is not impressed with Rothstein's piece.