souvenirs and artifacts of occupied territories

The next time you’re in a museum, and you see artifacts from Mexico, Africa, Pacific Islands, Indonesia, Native American, and so on, ask yourself—how did it get from “there” (the country of origin) to “here”—in this museum? Did the museum buy it from the native peoples where it is from? In many cases, it was looted/plundered/stolen/ill-acquired by a colonizing nation. It was common practice for the colonialists to collect souvenirs and artifacts of this “new” discovery or newly occupied territory. These artifacts were sent back and displayed in a museum or some other institution. Today it is common practice for museums to sell their artifacts to other museums or private collectors, who then, after some amount of time, sell or gift them back to another museum or collector, etc.

Eventually we find ourselves admiring one of those taken-bought-sold-resold-donated-gifted artifacts and wondering “Is this legitimately here or has it been “laundered” through the exchange of multiple owners?”

This assignment focuses on these issues as well as the excavation of ancient sites (sometimes burial grounds).

PART 2 (RESEARCH)

  • Images
    • You are required to use at least 4 artworks (include: artists, cultures/country, date) NOT from your textbook as examples throughout your writing. Please also include the image into the body of your essay, that way your writing will flow more smoothly. Do not include the images as separate documents.
  • Sources
    • Use at least 4 sources from the links that I have provided. You may use other sources; be sure that they are verifiable sites and not blogs or Wikipedia.
  1. Examples of antiquities/artworks

This is a brief list of some examples of artworks that are under the banner of “acquired by questionable means.” (You do not have to use these works of art- though they should serve as inspiration for research. And besides, there’s a ton more where these came from.)

Examples:

  • The Gates of Babylon taken and distributed in museums throughout the world from Iraq
    • Marble reliefs from the Parthenon frieze taken by the British in the late 1700’s
    • Native American artifacts, of dubious origin, in museums donated by collectors
    • African artifacts from Benin (and countless other places in Colonized Africa)
    • Incan Peruvian Art taken by Yale scholar in 1911

………There are so many more….

  1. Use these articles to help guide your research.

Museums and looted art: the ethical dilemma of preserving world cultures

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/jun/29/museums-looting-art-artefacts-world-culture (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Native American artifacts tell a story of loss, betrayal and survival

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/native-american-artifacts/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

The Louvre Puts Nazi-Looted Art in Public Eye in Effort to Find Rightful Heirs

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/louvre-launches-new-galleries-nazi-looted-art-180968130/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

U.S. returns huge haul of pre-Columbian artifacts to Mexico

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mexico-artifacts/u-s-returns-huge-haul-of-pre-columbian-artifacts-to-mexico-idUSBRE89P00J20121026 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

From Napoleon to the Nazis: the 10 most notorious looted artworks

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/13/10-most-notorious-looted-artworks-nazis-napoleon (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

The Art World’s Shame: why Britain must give its colonial booty back https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/nov/04/artworlds-shame-parthenon-elgin-marbles-british-museums(Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

European Summit to Discuss the Return of Looted West African Art
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/european-museums-discuss-returning-looted-african-art-180964555/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

To Return or Not: Who should own indigenous art?

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150421-who-should-own-indigenous-art (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

(Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Mexico Aztec headdress could go home from Austria

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-17878130 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

(Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.5 Native American Cultural Sites Looted in San Diego County https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/history/genealogy/5-native-american-cultural-sites-looted-in-san-diego-county/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

PART 3 (WRITING WITH INTEGRATED IMAGES)

  • Write a detailed response to each of the 7 points below.
  • Your essay must be a minimum 2.5 pages, double-spaced, with images integrated throughout.
  • Use at least 4 sources from the links that I have provided. You may use other sources; be sure that they are verifiable sites and not blogs or Wikipedia.
  • A bibliography is required and you may include this in the end of your essay.

You are required to use at least 4 artworks (include: artists, cultures/country, date) NOT from your textbook as examples throughout your writing. Please also include the image into the body of your essay, that way your writing will flow more smoothly. Do not include the images as separate documents.

  1. Can art be legitimately acquired by a colonialist nation? Define what means are legitimate in your response.
  2. What about Native American artifacts? Who owns them? What does the law say if you find something on your property? (Keep in mind, it was circa 1850 when Native Americans in the Southwest were relocated to live in reservations, previously there were no borders and the land was theirs for thousands of years.)
  3. Should artifacts be taken out of museums and returned to the original maker’s cultural place of origin?
  4. Do you think there should be statute of limitationson when a nation should ask for their artifacts back? What if the nation is suffering from turmoil for a long period of time and isn’t stable enough to ask for their art back until 200 years later? What then?
  5. Under what conditions should museums keep their artifacts? Should they even be allowed, ever?
  6. At what point does the artwork become part of human history? And not just one culture’s history?
    1. How does the clash of cultural values affect our perception of artifacts in the graves of other cultures? (Keep in mind that places like the Egyptian pyramids are first and foremost gravesite.
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