Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Anaïs Mattez on Restitution of Cultural Property: the rise and fall of a cosmopolitan ideal (International Journal of Heritage Studies)

"Restitution of cultural property: the rise and fall of a cosmopolitan ideal"
Anaïs Mattez (PhD candidate)
International Journal of Heritage Studies
Published online: November 2023

Abstract: This paper provides a historical analysis of the peak and demise of the international view on cultural heritage. In the 1980s, cultural internationalism emerged as a conservative reaction against the adoption of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, which organises the restitution and return of stolen cultural properties. Internationalist and cosmopolitan scholars who have claimed that cultural heritage ‘belongs to humanity’, generally condemned restitution, and pushed back against the ratification of the Convention. The international view on cultural property became traditionally dominant in milieus such as universal museums, antiquity markets and some academic disciplines. However, over the past half-decade, the growing importance of research on provenance has challenged cultural internationalism in two areas. Firstly, research on provenance focused on art and archaeological crime has shown that artefacts allegedly excavated in the past are often the proceeds of recent looting, especially in conflict zones. Secondly, recent studies on historical provenance have revealed that many objects were collected using colonial violence. As a result, developments in criminology, postcolonial history, and indigenous peoples’ rights have generally led to the retreat of cosmopolitan narratives on cultural property. Ultimately, this paper highlights that cosmopolitanism in cultural heritage has historically hinged on the imperialist past.

No comments:

Post a Comment