The Motivations Behind Peru’s Suit Against Yale

Posted on December 9, 2008


Derek Fincham has a very good post on the Illicit Cultural Property Blog introducing the suit filed by Peru against Yale. I very much like his last paragraph of commentary, which raises many of the questions that I was asking myself:

…I have more questions than answers at this point. I wonder to what extent Peru may be seeking a public shaming of Yale in the hopes of punishing them or forcing them to apologize for taking these objects away. It should be noted that the objects themselves are primarily interesting for their intellectual value. They are not prized for their inherent beauty or value. Their primary purpose would seem to be to assist in research and other pursuits. One wonders if Peru would be able to perform this research function as well as Yale University? Or, if those intellectual pursuits might have been best advanced if Peru had been able to reach an agreement with Yale which would have resulted in the construction of a research center in Peru. Isn’t the ‘star’ of the ancient city the well-preserved ruins themselves?

Dr. Fincham also kindly provides a (pay) link to download the original complaint.

The Peru filing against Yale follows their filing in the Black Swan case involving Spain and Odyssey Exploration.  That case presents the unique issue of whether a former colonized indigenous peoples or their former colonial power should get the benefit of underwater heritage derived from the previously colonized nation.  I have posted on that case in Peru Enters Black Swan Fray and Odyssey Files Response to Motion to Dismiss in Black Swan Case.

These suits show Peru beginning to assert themselves on an international level.  I wonder if they aim to join the ranks of Italy and Greece in terms of the repatriation movement.

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