The Artifacts Of The Past

2785 Words Jul 21st, 2015 12 Pages
To understand the past, we have to understand the artefacts of the past. Artefacts show us another kind of history, and another way of approaching the past. Not only do they frame the way we interact with the world, they also influence the way we think about it as a whole. So when one questions the ownership of these artefacts, they also question the history behind it. Because the history of art is, for the most part, a history of theft; questions over its ownership are bound to ensue. So, how do we decide who owns art, and subsequently, history? Prevailing postcolonial ideologies, might characterise museums as imperial despoilers in which their possession of artefacts showcase the dispossession of cultural identity from the colonised, robbing the motif behind acquired objects. This works in conjunction with the idea that when an ancient work of art is removed from its original setting, its aesthetic and historical significance is abandoned in favour of becoming an item of archaeology. However, arguments against this idea regard the notion of 'cultural property ' as a pure myth, as such artefacts are deemed inessential and irrelevant to the identity of recently emerged and artificially created nations. Instead, the concept of internationalism and the idea of shared history are propagated to defend the retention of artefacts in mostly western museums. Both sides present valid arguments for and against the repatriation of historical artefacts, in which it is apparent that the…

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