The Royalties of Benin

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Recently the Telegraph not only carried an opinion piece on the Benin Bronzes, but supplemented it with a news item about the existence of the opinion piece. (Links may be paywalled.)

If Sarr-Savoy was a manifesto, this is more of a harangue. The baddies are ‘an outgoing Blairite generation of museum bureaucrats [who] promoted the ideology of what they called the “universal museum”’ (Cuno is a Blairite now?). Exercises in seeking consistent moral principles are dismissed as ‘those tired cross-references to the “Elgin Marbles”, or any other whataboutist or obscurantist distraction’ (the nicest spin I can put on which is that maybe he’s a particularist about ethics).

So I find myself more interested in the professional etiquette of all this. A man with a book to promote is publicly telling a great many other institutions what their own deaccession policies ought to be. For Africa, of course.

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