The Best Heritage Writing of 2012

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by at one point or another here this year. I wanted to share below some of my favorite writers, reporters and bloggers writing about cultural heritage this past year.

One of my favorite stories this year was Nancy Greenleese’s profile of Dr. Laurie Rush at the annual ARCA conference and her work with others to raise awareness in the U.S. military to the destruction of archaeology. Dr. Rush’s writing on the use of cultural property as a ‘force multiplier‘ was an example of thoughtful practical action that can be taken to secure heritage.

In terms of blogging, every year more and more voices join the blogosphere, and its always a pleasure to see more and more voices enter the conversation and offer unique perspectives. I found myself reading every post at Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino’s Chasing Aphrodite which has taken the investigative reporting of their book and expanded its scope to include other figures in the antiquities trade, including Douglas Latchford, and Subhash Kapoor. First-class investigative reporting has been one of the cornerstones of the heritage protection movement, and their thoughtful thoroughly researched writing has been a terrific resource.

Speaking of reporting, I want to highlight in particular the reporting of PRI’s The World, which has offered some of the best first-hand accounts of antiquities looting, especiall the ongoing looting in Egypt and in Syria. The New York Times also has a dynamic reporting team in Tom Mashberg and Ralph Blumenthal, who have done excellent reporting on Cambodia’s efforts to block the auction of a disfigured and looted Koh Ker statue at Sotheby’s in New York.

For those interested in the day-to-day developments in the American legal system, Rick St. Hilaire’s wonky ‘cultural heritage lawyer‘ does a terrific job updating the progression of cultural heritage prosecutions and seizures. His coverage of the Peter Weiss coin smuggling prosecution, Subhash Kapoor, and the Ka Nefer Nefer were particularly outstanding.

Though I haven’t read all the entries, the ambitious and much-needed encyclopedia being compiled by the Trafficking Culture folks will surely stand as an important resource for many years to come, it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the field. Entries on the ‘Fano bronze‘, Giacomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina are particularly excellent examples.

In case you missed it, some of my personal favorite moments of the year including teaching a field class in Cerveteri with Stefano Alessandrini with the ARCA class of 2012, experiencing the salt mines and graffiti trains of Kansas, coaching another super group of lawyer’s to be at the cultural heritage competition moot court competition in Chicago, and visiting the best student art history conference, the Arthattack conference at Guelph.

And lastly, though its not writing, the moving documentary ‘Lost Bohemia‘ by Josef Birdman Astor is the best examination on film I’ve seen to chronicle the importance of preservation in all its forms. It is a straightforward effort to save something which is at risk. But its emotional core is the lives and decline of the artists it presents. Preservation is such an urgent thing when its impacting a living community. And though it was released in 2010-11, it was new to me this year. The documentary presents the residents who had been living for decades in the studio apartments above Carnegie Hall. The dancers, photographers, actors, music makers, writers and other characters had created this idyllic creative scene, and were being removed for the creation of offices and cubicles for Carnegie Hall. It’s not got a happy ending, but reinforced for me why heritage matters and how much hard work even small victories require. I’ll leave you with the trailer, please seek it out where you can find it.

Cheers to 2012 and thanks for reading!

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