This summer I’m slated to teach a two hour credit course on International Cultural Heritage Law in Malta through South Texas’ Malta program, alongside courses in Comparative Tax; and Democracy, Politics and Courts.
The course will examine the intersection between law and material cultural heritage. It will show how domestic and international law works to resolve disputes over ancient sites, works of art, and antiquities. A particular emphasis will also be the legal instruments which prohibit the intentional destruction and wholescale looting of ancient culture. We will examine international conventions, domestic laws, and analyze the prominent cases which have arisen over cultural heritage disputes.
If you are a law student interested in summer study opportunities, I hope you’ll consider it.
The excellent Art-Law Centre has announced its call for papers for its “All Art and Cultural Heritage Law Conference” to be held in June 2016 in Geneva.
From the call:
This conference will host two panels: ‘Cultural Heritage in the Crossfire: Reality and Effectiveness of Protection Efforts’ and ‘Art and Cultural Heritage: What Is the Role for Ethics?’. The aim of the conference is to take stock of, and to further contribute to the recent discussions regarding the protection of cultural heritage from damage and the role of ethics in the art world. In particular, the Art-Law Centre is interested in papers pursuing normative, empirical, comparative or theoretical approaches. We welcome contributions from law and other disciplines, including philosophy, criminology, archaeology and history.
Paper proposals should be emailed to the Art-Law Centre’s team firstname.lastname@example.org 29 February 2016. Successful applicants will be notified by 14 March 2016, and would be required to submit a summary of their presentation by 23 May 2016.
I’m very much looking forward to participating in this Friday’s conference at the Capitoline Museum in Rome marking the 20th Anniversary of the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Property. If you haven’t registered yet, and happen to be in Rome, I’m afraid registration is closed. But I’ll be offering some thoughts on the conference when I get back home next week.
I’ll be presenting a short paper on the Ka-Nefer-Nefer forfeiture case at the Society for American Archaeology Annual meeting this Saturday morning. Our panel is scheduled from 8-10.15 A.M. in the Golden Gate 4 room of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
Here are the other scheduled papers:
Antiquities, drugs, guns, diamonds, wildlife: toward a theory of transnational criminal markets in illicit goods
The Kapoor Case: International collaboration on antiquities provenance research
Alternative Strategies in Confronting Looting and Trafficking in Defense of Peruvian Portable Heritage
The Ka Nefer Nefer and Federal Intervention in the Illicit Antiquities Trade
Geospatial strategies for mapping large scale archaeological site destruction: The case from Egypt
Bones of Contention: Further Investigation into the Online Trade in Archaeological and Ethnographic Human Remains
Duncan Chappell & Damien Huffer
The ruin of the Maya heartland: successes, failures, and consequences of four decades of antiquities trafficking regulation
Syria: Cultural Property Protection Policy Failure?
Morag Kersel will also be presenting a paper on her project Follow the Pots
Good luck to all the teams fighting over the Blue Pineapple in Chicago at the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court competition this weekend! This competition is put together by DePaul College of Law with the help of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation. It’s a great showcase for these soon-to-be-lawyers and this field. A bit about this year’s problem:
The 2015 Competition will focus on constitutional challenges to the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), 17 U.S.C. § 106A, which protects visual artists’ moral rights of attribution and integrity. The problem will address both a First Amendment and a Fifth Amendment challenge to VARA.
Cultural heritage law deals with our most prized possessions and often spans beyond national borders, and, inevitably, has become the subject of often contentious legal debates and policies. This dynamic and growing legal field deals with the issues that arise as our society comes to appreciate the important symbolic, historical and emotional role that cultural heritage plays in our lives. It encompasses several disparate areas: protection of archaeological sites; preservation of historic structures and the built environment; preservation of and respect for both tangible and intangible indigenous cultural heritage; the international market in art works and antiquities; and recovery of stolen art works.
And Chicago must be the place to be for art and cultural heritage law this weekend, as the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium will also be hosting a two-day conference titled: ‘Archaeological Looting: Realities and Possibilities for New Policy Approaches’.
Last month the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law held its annual symposium. This year the topic was the intersection of art and law. There were a number of great papers examining how art and law overlap. I contributed a short talk on how the law ends up defining art, arguing the legal and the arts community need to recognize the important role law plays in defining the limits of conceptual art when legal disputes arise. I’ve posted the short draft online here: (How Law Defines Art), and I’d love to hear any reactions.
Defining art is both hard and subjective. But in lots of contexts the law must arrive at a just solution to hard and subjective questions. The art world (which includes artists, buyers, art lovers, art historians, and art writers generally) has largely neglected the task of defining artworks. This neglect has crept into legal disputes as contemporary art has become more conceptual. It has loosened the limits of aesthetics, form, function, and composition. This makes crafting a definition even more challenging. Yet the Law has an important part to play in resolving art disputes. In doing so courts end up defining art. They do not set out to do so, and in fact they do all they can to avoid acting as art critics. But paradoxically this creates inconsistent judicial reasoning and leads to under-reasoned opinions. The solution offered here, is to acknowledge this critical function, and encourage courts to engage with the visual arts community, and for the arts community to engage back.