Summary: Harding’s article offer an in-depth look at the theoretical justification for the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, paying special attention to the category of “cultural patrimony” under which non-funerary artworks will often fall if they are subject to NAGPRA. The paper focuses on three different approaches to justifying repatriation: in terms of compensation for historical injustices, the value of an object to a community, and challenging the very possibility of ownership of cultural patrimony. Harding ultimately favors this final approach, suggesting a stewardship model on which we all have obligations with respect to the protection of cultural property.
Comment: This is a long law review article, and so is best for more advanced classes. It is a useful text for instructors who are interested in exploring cultural property issues in a legal but philosophically informed context. One can also assign only certain sections focusing on particular issues. For a shorter article that also promotes a stewardship model, the Warren paper is a good substitute, though not likewise embedded in the legal issues (and written before the passage of NAGPRA).