Friday, March 17, 2017

Cultural Heritage Center Faces Budget Cuts

The State Department's Cultural Heritage Center (CHC) along with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) faces severe cuts in the Trump Administration's Budget proposal.  That proposal,

"Reduces funding for the Department of State's Educational and Cultural Exchange (ECE) Programs. ECE resources would focus on sustaining the flagship Fulbright Program, which forges lasting connections between Americans and emerging leaders around the globe.”

While the CHC's programs have been characterized as "soft power" diplomatic efforts, its MOUs have devolved into special interest programs that only benefit small numbers of archaeologists and foreign cultural bureaucracies that offer them excavation permits. Meanwhile, associated embargoes on cultural goods have thoroughly alienated large numbers of legitimate dealers and collectors both here and abroad. So, any supposed "soft power" benefits may in reality be deficits as far as the most of the general public is actually concerned.

It may be too much to hope for, but going forward the Trump State Department CHC should consider retooling to promote people to people cultural exchange that sees collecting as an asset and not an enemy.  Such an inclusive vision would increase CHC's popularity dramatically and help stave off any budget cuts going forward.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Short Comment Period for Proposed MOUs with Belize, Guatemala and Mali

Regulations.gov is now accepting public comments for the Cultural Property Advisory Committee's review of proposed renewals of MOUs with Belize, Guatemala and Mali.  Simply click on the above link, read the background information and then click on the blue "Comment Now" button to make your views known.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Antiquities Coalition Chief of Staff: "Dealers Don't Have Civil Rights!"

FROM TWITTER:

Katie A. Paul‏

@AnthroPaulicy

Katie A. Paul Retweeted Peter Tompa

What a shameful accusation to compare the plight of antiquities dealers to those fighting for civil rights. Dealers don't have civil rights!

Katie A. Paul added,
Peter Tompa @Aurelius161180
@AnthroPaulicy No, stance this is a drop in the bucket and does not justify efforts to undercut collectors' and dealers civil rights.


No wonder why the Antiquities Coalition apparently thinks the burden of proof should be shifted away from the government and onto collectors and dealers to prove their collections are "licit" under obscure foreign laws, many of which are the products of dictatorships like that of Egypt.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Destruction of Mosul Artifacts Further Undercuts Archaeological Lobby's Narrative

Confirmation that ISIS appears to have destroyed the contents of the Mosul Museum should be a cause for sadness rather than an excuse for yet another sound bite condemning the purchase of "blood antiquities."  If anything, the destruction of portable antiquities like cuneiform tablets contradicts the archaeological lobby's narrative that ISIS loots rather than destroys for ideological reasons.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Real Turn Around or Business as Usual?

It would be nice to think that Deborah Lehr and her well-funded Antiquities Coalition have had a real change of heart about how the antiquities market encourages cultural exchange and the preservation of artifacts, but given the group's consistent efforts to portray collectors as witting or unwitting accomplices of terrorists and cultural racketeers one has to really wonder if any change is just for the moment and for business purposes related to her international consulting firm.  Only time will tell.

Friday, February 24, 2017

ANA Warns Import Restrictions Damage Mission

The American Numismatic Association explains how import restrictions on coins that focus on place of minting in ancient times rather than modern find spots have damagesd its educational mission.  CPO once again expresses hope that the Trump Administration will perform a cost benefit analysis of such restrictions and their impact on various stake holders.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Thomas Murray, an Appreciation

CPO expresses thanks to Thomas Murray for his all too short service on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee.  President Obama appointed Mr. Murray to serve on CPAC in April 2013 to replace Bob Korver (who had resigned), but he was never allowed to serve a full term on his own.  This is a shame.  Mr. Murray, a past President of the Antique Tribal Arts Dealer Association, not only has real, tangible experience in the trade of ethnographic artifacts.  In addition, he actually represented the interests of his trade constituents by asking some "hard questions" at CPAC hearings.  In contrast, President Obama's replacement  for Mr. Murray may have political connections (albeit not with the party in power), but it remains unclear how he can actually "represent" the interests of the trade in either archaeological or ethnological objects as contemplated by the Statue. See Senate Report 97-564 at 9.  And, after all, "representing the interests" of  designated stakeholders is a major reason why CPAC exists.