This article discusses how archeological objects’ “pluralistic identity”—defined as the archeological relic’s life in the ancient world and its afterlife, including its reuse and potential return to its original national context—complicates the protection of archeological heritage on the Italian territory in the shadow of the cultural property nationalism/internationalism dialectic. It begins by reconstructing and discussing the debate underscoring the first retentionist cultural property law in post-Unity Italy. The article then analyzes a series of case studies testifying to the (in)efficacy of such a law—for instance, vis-à-vis political interests—the impact of bilateral agreements for the repatriation of looted archeological property from “universal museums” to Italy as the Nation of origin, and the dilemma over the state’s functions of preservation and fruition. The paper asks whether archeological relics which are understood as state property are indeed the “national(ist)” heritage of one national past and whether and how the national identity that they are thought to epitomize can coexist with an inclusive valorization of their “pluralistic identity” in our contemporary society.

Nationalism versus “identity pluralism”? Preserving and valorizing archeological heritage

Bernard, Elisa
2021

Abstract

This article discusses how archeological objects’ “pluralistic identity”—defined as the archeological relic’s life in the ancient world and its afterlife, including its reuse and potential return to its original national context—complicates the protection of archeological heritage on the Italian territory in the shadow of the cultural property nationalism/internationalism dialectic. It begins by reconstructing and discussing the debate underscoring the first retentionist cultural property law in post-Unity Italy. The article then analyzes a series of case studies testifying to the (in)efficacy of such a law—for instance, vis-à-vis political interests—the impact of bilateral agreements for the repatriation of looted archeological property from “universal museums” to Italy as the Nation of origin, and the dilemma over the state’s functions of preservation and fruition. The paper asks whether archeological relics which are understood as state property are indeed the “national(ist)” heritage of one national past and whether and how the national identity that they are thought to epitomize can coexist with an inclusive valorization of their “pluralistic identity” in our contemporary society.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11771/21125
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