Points of You - Volume 4
The forum that could not wait for a year to happen.
A very interesting reflection by Yannis Hamilakis, that will be our 'Points of You' for volume 4. What do you think?
"Friends asked me to elaborate on my suggestion for an Occupy movement, not only for art museums and galleries but also archaeological museums, archaeological sites/projects and other culture/heritage institutions that rely on cheap, un-insured, non-unionised labour, or on sponsorship from corrupt corporations.
We in archaeology, art and heritage domains have been for far too long, oblivious, tolerant, if not complicit to a regime of work and political economy which is not sustainable; they tell us about expansion, new markets, new wings for our museums, new museums elsewhere, mega-projects with hundreds of specialists which are going to last for a quarter of a century, and we think: great! Lots of jobs for us and others, more heritage, more culture, more archaeology, that’s good all round, right?
Well, no it’s not right: who is building that museum, heritage center or your university branch in the Gulf country ruled by a dictatorship? What are their conditions of work and pay, and how many have been killed in workplace accidents, and why? And once that museum or university branch has been built, how can they establish a culture of critique and open dialogue, how can they challenge power and authority, in a context where even the most basic rights of free expression are denied?
Why is beneficial for archaeology and for society to stage mega-field projects relying on the funding by corporations such as Shell, with its own dismal record of environmental destruction, and human rights abuse? And how much potential archaeological knowledge has been lost elsewhere (due to oil drilling, and the destruction of habitats), for the archaeological knowledge gained in one specific site?
Why is it great for art and archaeology to stage blockbuster exhibitions at the British Museum or the Tate (and I say this as a member), sponsored by BP and other similar companies, with their logos prominently exhibited everywhere? Why are we allowing archaeological and art objects to act as participants in this gigantic theatre of green-washing and complicity?
Where are the new creative, life-transforming and challenging ideas going to come from, if we dance to the tune of our sponsors, and design our research questions, our discussion frames and our rhetoric according to their profile and philosophy?
How many more volumes do we need on “religion” in the Near-eastern Neolithic, all funded by the Templeton Foundation?
These are extra-ordinary times. They demand extra-ordinary actions. Hence my suggestion. Occupy Museums in the US is already making a difference. Occupy in archaeological and art museums, galleries and archaeological projects is the next step."