I just arrived in Dallas for The Future of the Past, a conference at Southern Methodist University about the continuing controversies over cultural property and just who owns it. Given the developments of the last year or so — the successful claims by Italy for the return of antiquities in American museums, the decision by Yale to hand back its collection of Machu Picchu artifacts to Peru, the completion of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens as a way to put pressure on the Brits to turn over the Elgin Marbles — it seemed like a good moment to convene with some experts. There’s a world in motion here and it won’t end with the victories by Italy.
I’ll report back a few times from the conference, though maybe not today, which is a long and busy one. Which is why I’m here.