Since the late nineteenth century, the protection of Italy’s archaeological heritage has raised several dilemmas. The first dilemma includes the tensions between cultural property nationalism and internationalism. A second dilemma refers to the function of museums, functions which in turn might impinge on the distribution of museums on the national territory. More recently, another dilemma has surfaced that reflects the types of functions public powers should deliver in this field: protection and valorisation. Combining contextual analysis and a case study approach seems the most promising strategy to raise and discuss these dilemmas. This paper analyses the debate over the protection of the archaeological objects in post-Unification Italy to show that the State can serve multiple purposes, purposes which in turn might raise several tensions and shape the State’s cultural heritage law and its preservation and valorisation policies. The paper also presents the analysis of a case study that shows the dilemmas revived by today’s repatriations of archaeological property to its original national context and asks what strategies we might bring forward to negotiate these dilemmas. The paper argues that fostering transparent reinterpretation and display under the law and supporting “glocal”, sustainable international loan policies may mitigate the inherent tensions cultural heritage raises for us. Replicas, digital museums, and contemporary art might further this approach.

The Repatriation of Archaeological Property and Its Dilemmas: Reflections on the Italian Case

Elisa Bernard
2022

Abstract

Since the late nineteenth century, the protection of Italy’s archaeological heritage has raised several dilemmas. The first dilemma includes the tensions between cultural property nationalism and internationalism. A second dilemma refers to the function of museums, functions which in turn might impinge on the distribution of museums on the national territory. More recently, another dilemma has surfaced that reflects the types of functions public powers should deliver in this field: protection and valorisation. Combining contextual analysis and a case study approach seems the most promising strategy to raise and discuss these dilemmas. This paper analyses the debate over the protection of the archaeological objects in post-Unification Italy to show that the State can serve multiple purposes, purposes which in turn might raise several tensions and shape the State’s cultural heritage law and its preservation and valorisation policies. The paper also presents the analysis of a case study that shows the dilemmas revived by today’s repatriations of archaeological property to its original national context and asks what strategies we might bring forward to negotiate these dilemmas. The paper argues that fostering transparent reinterpretation and display under the law and supporting “glocal”, sustainable international loan policies may mitigate the inherent tensions cultural heritage raises for us. Replicas, digital museums, and contemporary art might further this approach.
978-88-6938-292-5
archaeology, repatriation, globalisation, Italy, context, museum
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11771/21128
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