Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wartime Risks and Peacetime Potential

The wartime destruction of cultural property seems intractable. In Syria and Mali, the threat to cultural heritage is painfully obvious, but relative to the loss of human life, protection of artworks, manuscripts, and historic structures takes a lower priority. In peacetime, the risks are different, and protection of cultural property is less in competition with physical survival. In many nations, emerging and developed, pursuing political and economic development still have higher precedence than protecting archaeological sites and conserving monuments, but protection of cultural property does occur with some success.
Peru YaleIn fact, antiquities and monuments contribute to political and economic progress. Notably, repatriation of antiquities plays an increasingly significant role in foreign relations, and cultural tourism holds potential for economic development. Peru's success in reclaiming Inca artifacts from the Peabody Museum at Yale University reflects the potential for cultural institutions in the United States to cooperate in the emerging climate of repatriation, and the site of Machu Picchu holds continued value as a tourist destination.
In short, public and private investment in protection of cultural heritage not only preserve “art for art’s sake” but also contributes to political and economic security.

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