Chapter 14 - Abstract and author bios

14. Object Movement: UNESCO, Language, and the Exchange of Middle Eastern Artifacts

Morag M. Kersel

There is a long-standing debate over the movement of objects. Are artifacts the common heritage of humankind or do specific communities or nations have proprietary rights to this material? This chapter relocates the discussion surrounding the movement of artifacts beyond the polarizing and entrenched conversations surrounding the binary stance of to move or not to move. An examination of language in various UNESCO cultural heritage conventions and recommendations along with examples from the Middle East allow for a consideration of the topics associated with the positive and negative movement of artifacts.

Morag M. Kersel is Associate Professor of Anthropology at DePaul University and a visiting fellow with the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago. She co-directs the Follow the Pots Project (, which traces the movement of Early Bronze Age pots from the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan. She recently co-authored (with Christina Luke) US Cultural Diplomacy and Archaeology: Soft Power, Hard Heritage (Routledge 2013) and co-edited (with Matthew T. Rutz) Archaeologies of Text: Archaeology, Technology and Ethics (Oxbow 2014).