Preserving our freedom to collect

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The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild has become a driving force in the ongoing effort to protect coin collectors and museums in which coins are stored from being forced to give up these items to foreign governments under the premise the coins are the cultural patrimony of the claimant nation. — Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News April 26, 2010

The Hooker Papers

The Hooker Papers

  • Deconstructing Cultural Heritage as it applies to property

    Abstract: John Hooker, ©2009 -------------UNESCO conventions on cultural heritage as it applies to property have neither defined “culture” nor “heritage”. Their content makes it clear that the individual is subservient to the state and is not free to determine his or her own culture and how that culture has been adopted from previous cultures. Instead, cultural property is considered to be state property. This nationalistic theory of culture is outdated and is not in keeping with the latest anthropological theories which show that any individual expresses many different “cultural frames” and that it would be difficult to find two individuals who shared exactly the same set of cultural frames. Nationality would only be one of these cultural frames, others would include identity with a region, town, profession, family, and any number of personal interests. These UNESCO conventions do not make any demands of responsibility to states to ensure that expressions of culture are protected within the states own borders. States are free to diminish or even destroy such expressions that might not support their own ideologies even when they can be seen to be of value to cultures outside of the state’s borders or to the world in general. The collecting and study of ancient coins can be seen to be a valid cultural frame in its own right and a healthy international trade in such objects enhances this activity. It is demonstrated that the presence of varied cultural frames among those who share the cultural frame of ancient numismatics will enhance their studies and lead to a greater number of new discoveries and methodologies. Nationalistic retentionist policies can only oppose this advancement.

  • Ancient Coin Collecting: Organization, Praxis and Epistemology

    Abstract - John Hooker, ©2009 -------- Although most archaeologists are mainly interested in their own chosen specialties, a very vocal minority has become very critical of collectors and has set themselves up as policy makers or advisors for archaeological societies, governments and the public in general. Being a political group, and using PR techniques, they have set aside the normal controls that one expects to see in academic discourse and have, instead, engaged in an “activist” style of rhetoric most common during political campaigns. This appears to have confused politicians and the public alike, who commonly cast academics as “experts” and who feel that great care must have been taken in the formulation of their public statements. This paper attempts to examine just a few of the commonest opinions voiced by this minority to see if academic due diligence is being properly exercised. If it is not, then there can be only two possible explanations: they are deliberately trying to deceive, or they are poorly equipped, intellectually, to deal with such matters. The final part of the paper makes a few suggestions as to how to begin to address the real problems of any potential loss of knowledge.