The Marbles : British Museum Loan

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“Elgin Marbles: British Museum loan 'an affront to the Greek people '” It was this headline about the British museum decision to loan Greek god Ilissos to Russia that caught my attention. I wondered how a nation like Britain that prided itself on it ethics blatantly refuses to return a historical item that was never theirs. Why would that not be considered stealing? As I delved further into Greece’s demand for repatriation, I began to notice a common theme that ran through most items with contested ownership. I pondered about Greece’s marbles and then India’s koh-i-noor diamonds. I wondered why Britain could refuse to repatriate these items and not be shamed internationally. But was Britain alone in its refusal? Well it clearly was not.…show more content…
To understand the past, we have to understand the artefacts of the past. Artefacts show us another kind of history, another way of approaching the past. Not only do they frame the way we act in the world, they also influence the way we think about the world. So when one questions the ownership of these artefacts, they also question the history behind it. Because the history of art is, in large 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 post- colonial ideology characterises museums as imperial despoilers and their possession of artefacts a dispossession of the cultural identity from the colonised, robbing the motif behind acquired objects. The idea that an ancient work of art is removed from its original setting, of which it forms an aesthetic and historical part, it loses most of its value and becomes a mere item of archaeology. However, arguments against this idea regard the notion of cultural property 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 ideas 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. It becomes apparent that the reality of

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