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The Return of Cultural Treasures


  • Page extent: 522 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 1.2 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521802161)

In recent years controversial cases such as the so-called Elgin Marbles have prompted public debate on the return of cultural treasures to their homelands. In this fully revised and expanded third edition of her seminal work, first published in 2007, Jeanette Greenfield analyzes and discusses the historical, legal and political issues surrounding a wide cross-section of similar cases. Bringing the story up to date, this edition includes new chapters on wartime plunders, deliberately destroyed art and the return of ethnic art such as Australian aboriginal and Native American art. It also explores the palaeontological and marine archaeology issues at play and examines new approaches taken by museums when dealing with cultural objects and their return. Written in a highly accessible style with an interdisciplinary approach, this book will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in cultural heritage, archaeology and anthropology, museums, art history and international law.

• Fully revised and expanded edition including new chapters on wartime plunder, deliberately destroyed art and the return of ethnic art • Explores approaches taken by museums when addressing the return of cultural objects • Highly illustrated and written in an accessible style appealing to readers interested in cultural heritage, archaeology, art history and international law


List of illustrations; Preface to the first edition; Preface to the second edition; Preface to the third edition; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction Magnus Magnusson; 1. The Icelandic manuscripts; 2. The Elgin Marbles debate; 3. British and other European practice; 4. Some British cases; 5. American and Canadian practice; 6. Russia and the former Soviet Union; 7. The Hebrew manuscripts; 8. International and regional regulation; 9. Art theft and the art market; 10. Plunder; 11. The first people; 12. Ground zero; 13. Homecomings: real and virtual; Notes; List of appendices in microfiche in first edition (1989); Select bibliography; Select list of web sites; Index.


Review of the hardback: '[Described the central topic of this book as] 'the morally rather beautiful idea that certain objects belong by right to a culture, and that in certain circumstances this overrides rights of circumstantial ownership.' Arthur C. Danto, The Times Literary Supplement

Review of the hardback: 'She brings style, enthusiasm and the mind an international lawyer to the complex historical, legal and political issues … A book for everyone concerned about Earth's scientific, historic and artistic heritage …' The Times

Review of the hardback: 'This remarkable book represents on the one hand, an important contribution to the law, both international and domestic, of the cultural heritage, and on the other hand a contribution likewise to the history of the movement of cultural treasures.' Australian Law Journal

Review of the hardback: 'Both readable and with its hundred excellent illustrations a delight to browse through …' British Yearbook of International Law

Review of the hardback: '[Jeanette Greenfield] presents an involving, balanced and excellently researched discussion of the priceless cultural artefacts taken from their lands of origin …' Art and Antiques

Review of the hardback: 'A fine book on a very important subject often surrounded not just by controversy but plain lies. It is a book which all interested in the cultural heritage of the people of the world will find rewarding reading.' Sydney Morning Herald

Review of the hardback: 'An extremely readable and accessible account of the complex legal issues involved in the question of repatriation … a well thought out balanced presentation …' Current Anthropology

Review of the hardback: '… a very valuable and important work … presents fully researched discussions of scores of cases argued over many years concerning national requests for 'repatriation' and 'return' of art and artefacts.' American Journal of Archaeology

Review of the hardback: 'The first edition of this highly readable study was an important landmark in the debates about the antiquities trade.' British Archaeology

Review of the hardback: '… provides a very fair analysis of this complex issue … a beautifully produced book … a standard reference on the subject.' Australian Society

Review of the hardback: 'Greenfield's book is an excellent guide for any would-be cultural politician.' Financial Times

Review of the hardback: '… a breakthrough book … which treats in a very detailed and illuminating and nuanced way, processes about which folklorists increasingly are … concerned: the expropriation of cultural capital and its use by powerful nation-states for the purposes of political legitimization, and then its repatriation, as a result of growing pressure from those from whom it was taken.' Lingua Franca

'… essential for reflection and reference for anyone wishing to engage in the increasingly public debate about the ownership of cultural property. … There are substantial, enlightening studies of many specific cases, and very readable discussions of the complex moral, political and legal contexts. New additions include chapters on plunder, native rights to relics and human remains, and the deliberate deconstruction of art. It all benefits greatly from being a clear minded, single-authorised study rather than an edited collection' British Archaeology

'The Return of Cultural Treasures is an enjoyable read. Greenfield is strong on facts and knows how to tell an attractive story. The volume is lively and rich in juicy morsels. It is also attractively presented, with 139 illustrations, most of them photos.' Journal of Business Law

'Dr Greenfield has certainly produced a masterpiece which we can recommend to both beginners and specialists. I know of no other book on the issue of restitution which comes close to this book in its breadth of knowledge and careful detailed analysis.'

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