Cultural Sensitivity for All, Baby Seal Fur for None.

Posted on November 12, 2008


I really liked the following paragraph from Larry Rothfield on SAFE. 

All of us who care about our collective past ought to be focusing now on generating and promoting realistic policy and legal measures that will reduce looting of sites in the most cost-effective way. I have suggested a few such solutions (impose a modest tax on antiquities sales with revenues dedicated to funding site protection in the countries or regions of origin; jawbone wealthy collectors to fund a non-profit foundation to develop low-cost anti-looting technologies and shunt assistance to those countries facing the most pressing difficulties; persuade countries, with the US leading the way, to contribute to the UNESCO fund dealing with the problem). Others have suggested market-based mechanisms that would incentivize site protection; public-spirited initiatives to spur cities, universities, or even facebook members to adopt particular archaeological sites; and, of course, cultural-sensitivity campaigns designed to tamp down on the demand side of the antiquities market by demonizing collecting as akin to buying baby seal fur.

via Cultural Heritage in Danger: Loot versus Looting: Time to Address the Primary Policy Challenge

He calls for a “robust discussion” on the proposed solutions. I would think the non-profit and UNESCO fund contributions would be no-brainers, although they’d require substantial organizational initiatives. I’d like to hear more about the modest tax proposal. And as to cultural sensitivity campaigns, I’d rather have them be positive in nature (isn’t demonizing passe?), such as focusing on the benefits of proper excavation methods.

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