Join the Department of Anthropology along with the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and the Wharton Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics on Monday, February 11, 2019 at 12:00 pm in the Penn Museum Room 345 for a talk with Dr. Brian Daniels from the University of Pennsylvania.
February 11, 2019, 12:00 PM
Classroom 345 - Penn Museum
More information here!
This paper is concerned with the demarcation of the boundaries between legal and illegal markets for the trade in ancient antiquities and their attendant social consequences. Since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2013, a great deal of media attention has been given to looting at archaeological sites across the country. While there has been a significant outcry about this destruction by the archaeological community, a counterargument has emerged asking whether this illicit trade provides important financial opportunities for otherwise impoverished communities located near archaeological resources. Such a critique, however, fails to take into account the labor of Syrians, who, even during the current civil war, mobilize in protest to this illicit market—even when it is against their own immediate and rational economic interest as well as their own personal safety. This talk, then, is two-fold: first, it explores the legal mechanisms and infrastructure that are mobilized in the production of licit and illicit markets of the global antiquities trade generally but for Syria specifically; and, second, it examines the diverse subjectivities, commitments, and moral economies that are created and engendered through the idea of an illicit market by Syrians themselves. I suggest that Syrians involved in this market-driven boundary-maintenance are not laboring under a sense of false consciousness or a neocolonial paradigm of Western property law, but rather that they have invested in the idea of public ownership—an increasingly scarce and precious commodity in the current Syrian conflict.
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