The Future Will Not Stop Escaping Us
8 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2012
Date Written: 2007
There is one area where "cultural property" and "public international law" are entirely coeval with each other: concerns about the meaning of "culture" within the study of international law are at the center of the "Newstream." The questions and initiatives around identifying, protecting, and assigning ownership of these kinds of objects, practices, and knowledge are fracturing and recombining very rapidly both in cultural property and heritage commentaries, and within the context of international law more generally.
There is no consensus about the meaning of "culture" or about its deployment. As a result, commentators in this field wonder what exactly law is being used to regulate. Can the law assess ownership or access rights without addressing the questions implicit in defining and assigning cultural identities or "culture" more generally? If one then takes on the question of "culture" beyond its formulation as an assessment and protection of who has property, "cultural" or not, in an object, this changes the teaching project, especially if one attempts to teach "from the left." Fundamentally, it is necessary to know who, or what, should be called "right" and who, or what, conversely, "left," within a field of this complexity. What are the prerequisites for such an endeavor?
Keywords: 'Teaching from the Left', cultural property, Arendt, international law
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