January 10, 2009

Sharon Waxman talks about the ownership of ancient artefacts

Posted at 1:58 pm in Events, Similar cases

Author Sharon Waxman is giving a talk at the University of North Florida about who owns ancient treasures.

Waxman has recently generated a lot of interest in the issue with her book: Loot.

The Florida Times-Union

Ownership of ancient treasures focus of talk
Western museums are facing a fight for many centuries-old objects.
* By Jessie-Lynne Kerr
* Story updated at 6:13 AM on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009

The battle over who owns ancient treasures will be the subject of a lecture by author and award-winning journalist Sharon Waxman at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the University of North Florida’s University Center.

The event is sponsored by UNF and the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville.

Waxman will be the speaker in place of the previously scheduled Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, who had to cancel his appearance because of the recent tension between his nation and its neighbors following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.

A former culture correspondent for The New York Times, Waxman’s book, Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World, was published by Times Books in November.

Waxman explores such questions as who ought to own the trophies of history, Western museums which can afford to display them, or the countries where they were stolen 200 years earlier? Why are the Elgin Marbles in London and not on the Acropolis? Why do there seem to be as many mummies in France as there are in Egypt? Why are so many Etruscan masterworks in America?

Waxman notes that for the past two centuries, the West has been removing the treasures of the ancient world to fill its great museums. But in recent years the countries where ancient civilizations originated have begun to push back, taking museums to court, prosecuting curators and threatening to force the return of the priceless objects.

Waxman also examines the implications for the preservation of the objects themselves and how people understand their shared cultural heritage.

Born and reared in Cleveland, Waxman is a 1985 graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University where she studied English literature and in 1987 earned a master of philosophy degree in modern Middle East studies at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University.

Fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, Waxman was hired by Reuters news agency to cover the first Palestinian intifada in Jerusalem in 1988-89 and then moved to Paris where she spent six years covering the culture, politics and economy of France and Western Europe for a variety of U.S. newspapers.

Waxman was hired as a correspondent for The Washington Post, which assigned her to Los Angeles from 1995 to 2003. For the next five years, she was a Hollywood correspondent for The New York Times.

In addition to covering the entertainment industry for the newspapers, Waxman wrote her first book, Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System, published by HarperCollins in 2005.

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