Wednesday, 23 June 2010

So-called Research Institute Fails to Deliver?

In 2009 the Cultural Property Research Institute (CPRI) was launched with a proposed number of projects. In November 2009 the CPRI published its first preliminary report, "Project on Unprovenanced Ancient Objects in Private US Hands". There were serious flaws. The CPRI has yet to to publish the names of the authors of the report, the sources for information, the extent of the data, or the nature of the peer review process.

In January 2010 I discussed the potential use of a register of antiquities in private hands. The CPRI was due to deliver a report on "Developing different models for a registry that can be applied to privately-owned objects" by the end of 2009. It has yet to appear.

The CPRI also promised to announce the details of another project by the end of 2009, "Exploring the effect of source country policies on damage to archaeological sites and objects".
Source country policies toward development, private ownership, enforcement and export, among other matters, can have profound consequences for the integrity of archaeological sites and the preservation of individual objects. Using a small, selected group of source countries, the CPRI will seek to gather and collate information on such policies, their effect on site damage, and possible remedies. This will be an ongoing research project with milestones and publication outcomes to be determined before the end of 2009.
Perhaps something has been determined but it has not been made public.

At the same time a director of the CPRI (and Washington lobbyist) has shown ignorance of the basic academic literature on looted antiquities.

Are the CPRI's board of directors unable to deliver?

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Damien Huffer said...

Hmmm.... The fact that they won't even release the author's names so that potential colleagues can contact them is most suspicious. I'd like to know how they chose which countries to examine.

Michael E. Smith said...

The ignorance of the CPRI extends not just to ignorance of the academic literature, but ignorance of basic principles of scholarly discourse (authorship, source of data, etc.). So why would anyone take this organization seriously? In some cases it can be difficult to distinguish objective scholarly research from biased propaganda; in this case the status of the work of CPRI seems pretty clear.

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