Who Owns History?: Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure
The biggest question in the world of art and culture concerns the return of property taken without consent. Throughout history, conquerors or colonial masters have taken artefacts from subjugated peoples, who now want them returned from museums and private collections in Europe and the USA.
The controversy rages on over the Elgin Marbles, and has been given immediacy by fig...more
When Robertson, discussing his interventions to prevent scientists from the Natural History Museum in London wanting to do tests on the bones of Tasmanian Aborigines from the Black Wars of the 1830s, wrote this:
'What they are going to do,' I replied, 'is to experiment with the bodies of victims of genocide.'...more
That way of describing the exercise did not look good in the next day's papers, neither to the museum's donors, nor to the judge, who extended the injunction and e
I enjoyed expanding my knowledge aro ...more
One of the few books that doesn't offer moralistic arguments, but instead combs the evidence to see if there is any legal case to be made in favour of the marbles returning to Athens; and there is. Most notoriously, the firman that Elgin supposedly acquired which, he claimed, gave him permission to take the marbles never existed! Indeed, the only thing that he had was a letter from a sergeant or something permitting him to take stones from the floor. I don't know the level of ...more
If you’ve ever sought a can of worms without success, try looking in this work. It could be argued that Geoffrey Robertson is our greatest legal mind ever; his recognition on the international stage tells us that. Here he looks into the restitution of stolen historical items or, more specifically, the possibility of their restitution.
The famous Elgin Marbles that were seconded from the Parthenon feature in this argument, one I’ve had o ...more
It's rife with repetition, often within pages of each other, which at first is a little annoying, but by the 6th or 7th occurrence becomes just plain condescending. Yes, I remember that you said the 6th Karyatid was stolen by Elgin. you don't need to add that fact again in brackets when discussing the Erechthio ...more
It goes into quite detailed legal jargon surrounding the proposition of an international legal framework to enforce the return of stolen artefacts. I am no lawyer, so this didn't interest me as much as the stories themselves about how famous treasures came to be where they are today. ...more
One of Australia's greatest legal minds tackles the world of Nation States, property law, Human and Indigenous Rights in highlighting the current and ongoing injustices. ...more
Robertson is a founder and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers. He serves as a Master of the Bench at the Middle Temple, a recorder, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London.