The great debate assignment



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THE GREAT DEBATE ASSIGNMENT

ARCH 1160

The World of Museums: Logistics, Laws and Loans
October 28, 2009
The marbles, which once formed part of the façade of the Parthenon in Athens, were removed and brought to Britain by Lord Elgin at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They were taken before the Greek War of Independence, at a time when what we now recognize as Greece was ruled by Turkey and when the British Empire had strong colonial interests in the eastern Mediterranean and Near East. Elgin had acquired permission from the Turkish to remove elements of the marble frieze, however his rights over the marbles were reviewed at length by the British parliament before it agreed to purchase them for the British Museum. The Greek government has campaigned for the return of the marbles and in 1982 submitted a formal request to the Council of Ministers for Culture of the member-states of UNESCO in Mexico. As a case study the Marbles therefore allow for the examination of the British museum as space for the negotiation of British national culture; of the place of colonialism in the representation of British national culture; and of the role of the Marbles and the Parthenon in the construction of Greek national identity.
Your Mission:

Each person is assigned a side for the great debate: those supporting the Greek claim for the repatriation of the Marbles and those supporting the British position to keep the Marbles. In preparing your one page position paper please formulate the defense of your position but keep in mind the arguments for the other side. Also bear in mind the larger issues of repatriation and the questions of “who owns the past”? Please do not just give your own personal opinion, structure the essay to formulate a coherent argument on whether the marbles should stay or go. Here are some questions that may guide your essay:




  • What are the Marbles? And why do Britain and Greece want them?

  • List the arguments for the return of the Marbles to Greece or for keeping them in Britain. Discuss briefly the motives of those people involved.

  • What role have the Marbles played in the construction of British and Greek national identities?

  • List the arguments for and against cultural restitution of the Marbles.

  • Despite the position you were assigned what is your opinion on whether the Parthenon Marbles should be returned?

  • What are the main historical and political factors influencing the place of the Marbles within these competing discourses of identity?

  • What are the main arguments and concepts employed in the negotiation and contestation of the ownership and representation of cultural property?

  • To what extent do international institutions and legislation concerning cultural property impact on this case? (see UNESCO web site on legal protection of cultural heritage and see the Hellenic Ministry of Culture web site for appeals to UNESCO)

Reading for Class and Websites to consult:
Hamilakis, Y.1999 Stories from Exile: Fragments from the Cultural Biography of the Parthenon (or “Elgin”) Marbles. World Archaeology 31(2):303-320.
Hitchen, C. 2009 The Lovely Stones. Vanity Fair, July 2009.
Lobell, J. 2009 A New Home for the Treasures of the Acropolis. Archaeology, September/October Vol 62 (5):
Rudenstine, D. 2000 Did Elgin Cheat at Marbles? The Nation May 29:43-51.
Snodgrass, A. 2004 The Parthenon Marbles as an Archaeological Issue. In Material Engagements: Studies in Honour of Colin Renfrew, edited by N.J. Brodie and C. Hills, pp. 115-124.
Stewart, W. G. 2001 The Marbles: Elgin or Parthenon? IAL Annual Lecture, December 2000. Art, Antiquity and Law 6(1):37-56.
Trigger, B.1984 Alternative Archaeologies: Nationalist, Colonialist, Imperialist. Man, New Series, 19(3):355-370.
British Museum’s Collection

http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/gr/debate.html


Campaign to Return the Parthenon Marbles

http://www.parthenon2004.com/


The Parthenon Marbles

http://www.uk.digiserve.com/mentor/marbles/
Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles

http://www.culture.gr/6/68/682/
UNESCO Cultural Heritage and Legal Protection

http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=2187&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

http://www.unesco.org/culture/legalprotection/


Website dedicated to the return of the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles

http://www.museum-security.org/elginmarbles.html
Further reading
BBC News 2004 Deadlock over the Axum Obelisk. BBC News Online, World Edition, September 14, 2004.
El Aref, N. 2003 Recovering Heritage. Al-Ahram On-Line Issue 637, May 8-14.
Fforde, C. J. Hubert and P. Turnbull (eds.) 2002 The Dead and Their Possessions: Repatriations in Principle, Policy and Practice. London: Routledge.
Gathercole, P. and D. Lowenthal 1990 The Politics of the Past. London: Routledge.

Greenfield, J. 1996 The Return of Cultural Treasures. Second Edition Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Hamilakis, Y.1999 Stories from Exile: Fragments from the Cultural Biography of the Parthenon (or “Elgin”) Marbles. World Archaeology 31(2):303-320.
Hamilakis, Y. and E. Yalouri 1996 Antiquities as Symbolic Capital in Modern Greek Society. Antiquity 70:117-129.
Handler, R. 1991 Who Owns the Past? History, Cultural Property and the Logic of Possessive Individualism, in B. Williams, (ed.) The Politics of Culture. Washington D.C. Pp. 63-74.
Hitchens, C. 1997 The Elgin Marbles: Should They Be Returned to Greece? London: Verso.
Kaye, L. and C. Main 1995 The Saga of the Lydian Hoard Antiquities: From Us¸ak to New York and Back Again and Some Related Observations on the Law of Cultural Repatriation. In K. W. Tubb (ed.) Antiquities Trade or Betrayed: Legal, Ethical and Conservation Issues. London: Archetype. Pp. 150-162.
Kersel, M. 2004 The Politics of Playing Fair. Or Who’s Losing Their Marbles? In Y. Rowan and U. Baram (eds.) Marketing Heritage: Archaeology and the Consumption of the Past. Walnut Creek Ca: AltaMira Press. Pp. 41-56.
Kohl, P. and C. Fawcett (eds.) 1996 Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McBryde, I. (ed.) 1985 Who Owns the Past? New York: Oxford University Press.
Merryman, J.H. 1985 Thinking About the Elgin Marbles. Michigan Law Review 83:1880-1923.
Rowan Y. and U. Baram (eds.) 2004 Marketing Heritage: Archaeology and the Consumption of the Past. Walnut Creek Ca: AltaMira Press.
Rudenstine, D. 2000 Did Elgin Cheat at Marbles? The Nation May 29:43-51.
St. Clair, W. 1998 Lord Elgin and the Marbles (3rd revised edition). London: Oxford University Press.
St. Clair, W. 1999 The Elgin Marbles: Questions of Stewardship and Accountability. International Journal of Cultural Property 8(2):391-521.
Stewart, W. G. 2001 The Marbles: Elgin or Parthenon? IAL Annual Lecture, December 2000. Art, Antiquity and Law 6(1):37-56.
Trigger, B.1984 Alternative Archaeologies: Nationalist, Colonialist, Imperialist. Man, New Series, 19(3):355-370.
Tubb, K. W. (ed) 1995 Antiquities: Trade or Betrayed. Legal, Ethical and Conservation Issues. London: Archetype.

Vrettos, T. 1997 The Elgin Affair: The Abduction of Antiquity’s Greatest Treasures and the Passions it Aroused. New York: Arcade Publishers.


Willett, F., 2000 Restitution or re-circulation: Benin, Ife and Nok. Journal of Museum Ethnography. 12:125-32
Yalouri, E. 2001The Acropolis. Global Fame, Local Claim. New York: Berg Books.






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