Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cultural Security News (Dec. 23 - Dec. 29)

Expansion of China’s art market
In politics, John Seed published a colorful allegory on the waning relationship between the art market and art criticism. Jay Kislak, who chaired the Presidential Cultural Property Advisory Committee from 2003 to 2008 commented on frustration in dealing with State Department staff. Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister, Ertugrul Gunay, warned of continued efforts to repatriate ancient treasures. Fallujah began to work on a monument to victims of terrorism.
In a crossover of politics and economics, China realized the need for laws and regulation to expand the art market.
Elton John performing in Beijing on Nov. 25 (AP Photo) In a crossover of politics and security, in China, criticism of comments by Elton John about Ai Weiwei indicated continued restriction of artists in making political statements during performances.
In economics, the 3rd China Art Market Summit Forum discussed the change and sustainable development of the art market. Despite the success of current artists in China, the curator, Zhu Qi, voiced concern that there is no rising group at present. The Jing Daily reported that the art market in China is primed to increase the rate of development in 2013, while the art market in India corrected with an increased awareness of quality. A painting by Edward Hopper became the most expensive sale of an artwork in an online auction at $9.6 million. A collector paid $1.2 million for a group film posters.
In a crossover of economics and security, the director of the Dubai Municipality’s architectural heritage department called for the development of the heritage tourism sector in the interest of making conversation sustainable.
In security, Turkish police arrested four men in Adana in connection with a 1,900-year-old Torah scroll. Concerns increased over trafficking in cultural material from Syria through Lebanon and Turkey. In Florida, the man accused of trafficking in dinosaur fossils from Mongolia pleaded guilty. India is experiencing trouble with “unscientific” conservation methods that comprise monuments.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cultural Intelligence: What’s missing?

Looking back on the year, the art market racked up success, while cultural heritage had setbacks.
Beyond criticism of high-end collectors for tainting the aesthetic integrity of modern and contemporary art, an art fair in Bangladesh, international sales of contemporary artworks from Syria, and recognition of emerging artists in Africa each reflect the potential of the political economy of cultural property. On the other hand, deliberate destruction of shrines in northern Mali and destruction of historic sites throughout Syria reflect a decade of targeting in political violence since the demolition of the giant statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley of Afghanistan.
Photos: Xu Ming/GTIn the balance, cultural security did OK, but what’s missing in the perceived value of cultural property?
On the surface, expansion of the art market develops the political economy of art, but what are the long-term effects on cultural property? In China, for example, a focus on the art market as an aspect of economic development attracts capital and investment in infrastructure to the benefit of cultural heritage. How the resources are applied, however, has ramifications for the treatment of cultural property. Interest in art as an asset class risks casting cultural property as a commodity. As a result, perceptions of the value of historic buildings and sections of cities may factor the economic, versus the cultural, significance more into decisions on conservation.
What might restore balance to the short-term pragmatic and the long-term aesthetic considerations of cultural property?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cultural Security News (Dec. 16 - Dec. 22)

"Socio-Cultural" Security
In politics, in Australia, the think tank, Future Directions International (FDI), published a report which warned that the anti-Western rhetoric of Hizb ut-Tahrir “could pose a ‘socio-cultural’ security threat by increasing disharmony between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians.” Hizb ut-Tahrir criticized the quality of the study and the validity of the conclusions. Azerbaijan made news for participation in UNESCO’s committee for protection of cultural property during armed conflict.
Iran condemns monument destruction in Nagorno-Karabakh by ArmeniansIn a crossover of politics and security, Egypt engaged in talks with Israel to prevent the destruction of a war memorial for Egyptian soldiers of the Six Day War in the West Bank. The Pakistan People’s Party tasked the Ministry of National Heritage and the Foreign Ministry with coordinating efforts to repatriate Gandhara artifacts that had been trafficked to Western nations. Iran condemned the destruction of a monument by Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. In India, former politicians surrendered to the court in the twenty-year-old case of the demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque.
In economics, Georgia voiced appreciation of USAID in economic development and cited potential of a rich cultural heritage. Criticism continued over a lack of aesthetic appreciation in acquisitions of art. In China, the first Chinese Art Market Development Summit declared Beijing as a “maturing art market center of the world.” In the art market, one report indicated that sales of Sotheby’s dropped by 10% from last year. Founders of start-ups in the on-line art market sector voiced optimism with the “disproportionate” expansion of the market in emerging markets.
In a crossover of economics and security, in Pakistan, the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) attempted but failed to halt the sale of a Fasting Buddha, which had been illicitly removed and fetched over $11 million at auction at Christie’s in New York in 2011. Palestine claimed that loss of land and lack of control of borders impedes the development of tourism. In Afghanistan, the deadline for completing excavation of Buddhist artifacts at the Mes Aynak mine approaches. In Afghanistan, the governor of the central bank reported on an investigation of potential money laundering with large shipments of gold leaving the country.
In security, a retrospective commentary for the year referred to Islamists “systematically destroying the indigenous cultures of Mali, Lower Sudan, Niger, and Nigeria.” In Cyprus, the UN Ambassador reported on systematic and widespread destruction of cultural and religious heritage in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island. In Syria, new rebel Islamist groups act independently in attacks on cultural property. In Greece, two thieves received life sentences for trafficking in cultural artifacts.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cultural and Human Security

Threats to the security of cultural heritage in conflict and the political risk of repatriation have increased the power of cultural property in international affairs. International conventions for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage have created opportunities for emerging nations to have a voice in international affairs and have given rise to innovative solutions to disputes over possession of cultural property. The Penn Museum and the Dallas Museum of Art recently negotiated academic collaboration with Turkey in exchange for the return of disputed objects as long-term loans. At the same time, the symbolic power of cultural heritage is increasingly exploited in political violence and armed conflict.
A statue from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos (Photo from destruction in Mali and Syria provide poignant, topical examples. As with resolution of cases for repatriation, threats to the security of cultural heritage in conflict would benefit from innovative policy that goes beyond sheer protection with strategic consideration of cultural heritage. The assertion of the interrelation of cultural heritage and international security suggests that artworks and monuments have strategic value. The value, in turn, creates opportunity to incorporate cultural heritage into policy in the interest of human security.
As a first step, nations have realized the practical significance of cultural heritage to national security. The emerging relationship between cultural property and human rights suggests the relevance of cultural heritage to human security. Turkey recently brought human rights law into a case for repatriation of antiquities from the British Museum, and political tension on the twenty-year anniversary of the destruction of the Babri Mashid in India illustrates the significance of cultural property in freedom of expression. Targeting of shrines in Timbuktu and burning of the souk in Aleppo undermine cultural identity and, thereby, compromise human security. In such cases, cultural and human security intertwine.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cultural Security News (Dec. 09 - Dec. 15)

Human Rights Law, Art Market Bubble, Transnational Crime and Trafficking
In politics, Turkey pulled human rights law into the case for repatriation of sculptures of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus from the British Museum. Anastassis Mitsialis of Greece advocated the return or restitution of cultural property to nations of origin as part of a report at the 67th General Assembly of UNESCO. Despite protests from the Chinese government, an imperial seal, which was stolen from Beijing in the 19th century, will go up for auction in Paris. China wrestled with several contested demolitions and redevelopment of historic sites. Romania seeks to repatriate the remains of Constantin Brancusi from Paris, while India mourned the passing of Pandit Ravi Shankar.
In a crossover of politics and economics, from the perspective of some art critics, the role of critique has been supplanted by the art market, and art critics now critique the collectors as well as artists such as Damian Hirst. At the same time, popular artists, such Jeff Koons, displayed works with more than one representative, Damian Hirst left Gagosian Gallery, and pressure to produce art to fill stands at Art Basal Miami Beach risks compromising quality. In New Zealand, promoters of Maori cultural identity emphasize the need for cultural security to be a means to productive integration into society and not an ends. A new book by George Lekakis documents the loss of cultural material from Greece during the German occupation of World War II and estimates the value of some 8,500 objects at more than $1 trillion.
A portrait bust of Germanicus In a crossover of politics and security, the Director General of UNESCO and the President of Mauritania called for the protection of cultural heritage in Mali as destruction and looting continue amidst in sectarian conflict. Russian prosecutors investigated an exhibition by Jake and Dinos Chapman for violation of extremism laws, while social conservative groups such as Orthodox Christians and Cossacks filed complaints against the exhibition. The Hermitage Museum spoke out against the complaints and investigation, which appear to support the cultural policy of Vladimir Putin. In Pakistan, academics speak out over the planned destruction of a monument to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Peshwar.
In economics, one of the Elgin marbles without issues of provenance fetched $8.2 million at auction in London. Speculation of an art-market bubble continued as million-dollar prices for works by current artists contrasted with deceased interest in works of the promising contemporary artists of the last half-century. Conflicting reports in China claim higher stability in the art market in Hong Kong while interest in investment in the art market has lessened on the mainland as under developed strategies for acquisitions have turned to losses. On the positive side, a Native American art auction at Bonhams in San Francisco, brought in $1.28 million.
In security, in Syria damage and looting continue with evidence for targeted theft and trafficking in high-value objects from museums. The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism reported similar tactics and information on international mafias that traffic in antiquities. A large number of items, which had been lent to the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, may have been sold without authorization. Douglas A. J. Latchford, a renowned British collector and expert of Khmer art has been implicated in the illicit transfer of a 10th -century warrior statue, which now features in a highly visible court case between Sotheby’s in New York and Cambodia. Reportedly, in South Africa, rising prices have induced an increase in art thefts.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Intelligence for Protection of Cultural Heritage

The tightening interrelation of cultural property and international security -- cultural security -- creates a need for the collection and analysis of specialized intelligence. “Cultural Intelligence” enables assessments of the tactical and strategic significance of antiquities, fine art, and cultural heritage sites to national and regional security. This video, "Art of Cultural Intelligence," presents a framework for the collection of cultural intelligence as a fundamental asset in countering threats to cultural security.
Looting of antiquities as a tactic in campaigns of cultural cleansing, trafficking in antiquities as a source of funding for insurgents, and targeting of historic structures and religious monuments in political violence represent distinct threats to regional security. A critical initial step in countering the threats includes marshaling appropriate sources of information. Publications that report on the art market and cultural property globally and players in the antiquities trade offer opportunities as sources of cultural intelligence.
Ultimately, the development of tactical and strategic cultural intelligence can reveal trafficking networks and assess risks to cultural heritage sites. As a starting point, this presentation identifies viable sources of cultural intelligence. Conflicts in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) provide examples in retrospect, while volatility in Mali presents an opportunity in the context of an emerging security risk.
In conclusion, the presentation speculates on the applications of cultural intelligence in regional security.
Erik Nemeth delivered the presentation on a panel, "Archaeology in Conflict and the Military," at the conference Archaeology in Conflict ( in Vienna, Austria.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cultural Security News (Dec. 02 - Dec. 08)

Pearl Harbor, China Poly Auction, and thefts of Henry Moore statues
In politics, in New Mexico, the state Supreme Court considered whether or not to uphold the designation of Mount Taylor as a cultural site of Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Acoma Pueblo, and Laguna people to protect the cultural property from development. An agreement to return a mosaic of Orpheus from the Dallas Museum of Art to Turkey included collaboration on art loans and conservation and other technical expertise. In Hawaii, ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial commemorated the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack that compelled the United States to enter World War II.
In a crossover of politics and security, Irina Bokova authored an op-ed in The New York Times. The Director General of UNESCO made a case for “seeing cultural heritage as an international security issue.” In India, on the 20th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, police in Hyderabad prepared to deter protests at The Charimnar. A court in Qatar sentenced a poet to life imprisonment for criticizing the emir. New Zealand acceded to the 1954 Hague Convention by passing legislation on the protection of cultural property from destruction and theft during armed conflict. In the United States, federal agencies signed a memorandum of understanding for the protection of Native American sacred sites and improving access to the sites.
In a crossover of politics and economics, the high-end collectors and buyers at Art Basel Miami Beach drew criticism from writers and critics, who question the impact of current spending in the art market on the development of art.
In economics, a London borough, Tower Hamlets, hoped to solve financial problems with the sale of "Draped Seated Woman" by Henry Moore, but the sale was impeded by the Art Fund charity, which challenged the legal ownership of the sculpture. In France, President Francois Hollande inaugurated a Louvre satellite museum, which is hoped to revive the economy of Lens. The art fair, Art Basel Miami Beach attracted new affluent Latin American buyers. Poly Auction, China’s largest art auction house, is now the third-largest internationally after Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The nature magazine, National Geographic, raised $3.8 million in an auction of photographs.
In security, in the UAE, Sharjah Police worked off of information from Dubai Police to arrest a couple of Pakistani men who were trafficking in fake gold coins. In Oman, the Council of Ministers approved a plan to counter looting of and trafficking in cultural property as part of a comprehensive plan to develop tourism. In Khao Sam Kaeo, a “bead rush” increases looting and trafficking of cultural property in Thailand. In the UK, the two men who stole “Working Model for Sundial” from the Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire were sentenced to a year in prison. In Italy, Rome police recovered an Egyptian sphinx of the 4th century B.C. In New York, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized several Indian statues that the now notorious antiquities dealer, Subhash Kapoor, had allegedly sold. HSI also seized a 16th century tapestry from a business in Houston on behalf of the Spanish Civil Guard. Also, the FBI Art Crime Program secured a painting from a Santa Fe art gallery on behalf of the Embassy of Peru in Washington D.C.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cultural Property in Foreign Policy: Distraction or Asset?

Targeting of cultural property in political violence and cases for repatriation of cultural patrimony have developed into significant challenges in regional conflict and foreign relations. Looked at in the short-term, the challenges may seem transient, but what if targeting and repatriation of cultural heritage are symptoms of a broader phenomenon of the power of culture?
A recent New York Times op-ed by Irina Bokova stressed the relevance of cultural heritage to international security. The Director General of UNESCO provided poignant examples of deliberate destruction of World Heritage sites, such as during armed conflict in Syria and political violence in Mali, which led up to a recommendation of “seeing cultural heritage as an international security issue.” With an increasing interrelation of threats to cultural heritage and regional security, nations have both a responsibility of and a strategic interest in countering threats. The relevance of cultural heritage to security has implications for foreign policy. What policy might nations adopt to protect, and potentially leverage, cultural property in the interest of national security?
Issues of cultural property prompt a similar question for diplomacy. Turkey’s assertive campaign for repatriation of cultural treasures and China’s campaign to develop cultural soft power illustrate the exploitation of cultural property in foreign policy. Simultaneously, both nations face criticism for domestic cultural policy. Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to construct a mosque in Taksim Square has been met with opposition from secularists, and Chinese officials’ continued pursuit of “cultural security” is perceived as oppressive from abroad. With other emerging nations experimenting with the potential of cultural property as a means to a voice in international affairs, Turkey’s and China’s balancing of foreign and domestic cultural policy provide valuable case studies.
In the sort-term, threats to cultural heritage in conflict and the trends of repatriation and cultural soft power may seem like distractions in the face of armed conflict and tension in foreign relations, but investing in strategic responses may lead to more effective application of culture in foreign policy. By examining the challenges with the intent of finding long-term constructive solutions, nations would gain practice in considering the value of culture as a medium for diplomacy and as instrumental to security.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cultural Security News (Nov. 25 - Dec. 01)

Turkey and China cause controversy with foreign and domestic cultural policy
In politics, the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti approaches, while the controversy between Egypt and Germany continues over ownership of the cultural treasure. A Norwegian group proceeded with plans to return Roald Amundsen's  ship, Maud, by visiting Cambridge Bay in Canada to photograph the wreck. China continues to progress with developing cultural soft power abroad while implementing domestic cultural policy such as the rapid establishment of museums nationwide. On a lighter note, toilets have aesthetic appeal in Korea as evidenced by a dedicated park in Suwon.
Mexchac GabaIn a crossover of politics and economics, the Tate Modern in London lends esteem to African artists by showcasing Nigerian artists. The show drew criticism of engaging in “neocolonialism” under the guise of “being nice” to disadvantaged African artists. In China, the "world's first financial center for art" is under construction in Xiamen.
In economics, as evidence of Chinese auction houses becoming competitive internationally, Poly Auction planned its first auction outside of China to coincide with Christie’s auction in Hong Kong. Specialized funds reflect Initiatives to create an asset class from fine art and collectibles. Estimates range from $960 million to $2 billion in the funds worldwide and are a fraction of the $60 billion international market for art. Malaysian art has reportedly made gains, and new wealth in Turkey increases the demand for art the local market. Canada’s art market tends to follow the United States and Britain in building a following for recent artistic movements.
In a crossover of economics and security, financial analysts warn of an impending bubble in the contemporary art market.
In security, artists in Nepal sculpted trash from Mount Everest in an effort raise awareness of the environmental impact of expeditions. New Zealand reportedly lags in establishing World Heritage Sites relative to Australia and has none of cultural significance. Similar to controversy over Turkey’s pursuit of repatriation of antiquities from abroad, domestic cultural policy draws criticism to the planned construction of a mosque in Taksim Square. A former secretary to Imelda Marcos has been charged with keeping a painting, to which the Philippine government claimed ownership after Ferdinand Marcos was deposed. The former secretary was detained in New York and pleaded not guilty to conspiring to sell the painting by Monet.
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