Monday, July 09, 2007

More Machu Picchu

Before the break, I mentioned Arthur Lubow's fascinating New York Times Magazine article on the battle between Peru and Yale over certain Machu Picchu artifacts. JL at Modern Kicks wonders what legal arguments "Yale might employ in the face of what seem like compelling Peruvian arguments." Since, as Lubow points out, "if the case winds up in the United States courts, its disposition may be determined by narrowly legalistic interpretations of specific Peruvian laws and proclamations," I'm afraid I can't be of much help there, but I can point you to Derek Fincham, who's the go-to guy on all cultural property matters. He finds the following recent offer by Yale to settle the dispute "a fair compromise which would be a win for both sides":

"Yale offered to send back 'the museum-quality (that is, whole) objects excavated by Bingham at Machu Picchu' for display in a 'state-of-the-art museum exclusively dedicated to Machu Picchu' that would be opened in Cuzco in collaboration with Yale on the centennial anniversary of Bingham's 1911 discovery of the site. To help raise money for the museum, Yale would resurrect its touring exhibition, which ... would end up permanently in Cuzco. This represents a significant concession over Yale's past proposal to divide possession of the approximately 300 display-worthy objects. The research collection, however, would continue to reside in New Haven. ... In other words, Peru's pride will be assuaged if Yale's research needs can be met. Whether Peru will consent to those terms - indeed, whether the ... government is at liberty to do so, legally or politically - is uncertain."