Summary: In this paper, Thompson approaches questions about the repatriation of art and artifacts through the lens of cultural property. She briefly discusses the nature of cultural property itself, and then moves on to exploring how her preferred conception of cultural property (roughly, culturally significant objects that are legitimately acquired by a collectivity) can facilitate or hinder claims for repatriation. In particular, she discusses the relationship between cultural property-based claims and potentially countervailing considerations, such as the purported universal value (or “value for humanity”) of cultural heritage.
Comment: This text offers a helpful introduction to cultural property and repatriation that is clear, readable, and concise. It is a good choice if you only have time for a single reading on this topic, but it also pairs well with most other readings in this module.