Writing about Heritage Claims

Another interesting article over at the Guardian this morning: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/dec/08/turkey-british-museum-sculptures-rights?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

The content of the article is of course interesting: the claim is being made by Turkey for the return of various statues on the basis of Human Rights Law. It is the language of the article, however, that intrigues me.

There seems to be no attempt made in the article to seem impartial – the message comes across loud and clear: The British Museum is being “robbed” of artifacts by “human rights violators”. Firstly, its really not that black and white but secondly, is such open bias ever acceptable? The presentation of Turkey here as a threat to the British Museum and museums world wide might be technically valid but is is hyperbolic in the sense that the focus seems to be not on the claim to the objects but on the actions of Turkey in the past.

Is this an acceptable argument. I’m sorry, Britain, but if all we’ve got on the moral stage at this point is “We’re not giving it back because we don’t like you” then we’re in trouble. I’m not saying this is the case, nor am I saying that this is how all individuals see the issue, but it is the feeling I got from the article. Note that human rights violations were raised – the sense seeming to be that “Turkey can’t claim under human rights because they have broken the guidelines themselves”. We can’t approach heritage in this way – somebody has to take the high ground at some point. If every group who at some point has disobeyed legislation is then discounted from it then what is the point of having the legislation in the first place…

The topic is an important one to discuss… I simply found the tone of the article questionable, and, to be frank, rather immature.


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