Sunday, July 8, 2012

Featured Blog(s): Property of an Anonymous Swiss Collector and Grotesque Stone Idols

Two of my fave blogs lately are Property of an Anonymous Swiss Collector and Grotesque Stone Idols, both written by my friend and future colleague, Dr. Donna Yates. I am not just plugging Donna's blogs because she has been the number 1 diva in the club getting me through the super stressful process of flat hunting in a foreign country from across an ocean. Though that might be 20% of it. The other 80% has to do with how much I've been enjoying and learning from her blogs over the last few weeks. Donna recently got her PhD from Cambridge University in illicit antiquities research-related things, and is now one of the four happy souls leading the ERC-funded study on the trafficking of cultural property at the University of Glasgow. Her work is focused on South American antiquities and archaeology, and over the last few weeks her blogs have been published with exciting regularity on all manner of things from the origins of the word "huaquero" (the Spanish word for looter" to Peruvian-archaeology founder Julio C. Tello to the uh-oh search terms people are using when they stumble across her blog.

Donna's perspective as an academic is really interesting (to me, anyway) because she trained in the archaeology side of things, but leans more toward the heritage/policy camp. The mix of the two results in presenting the historical and present social contexts of these issues in a cocktail of old and new that can't help but reframe your perspective on certain issues. What really makes these blogs fun for me is the fact that Donna uses them to share things she herself has been researching, as opposed to them being a news source with your typical re-hashing of opinion. Additionally, her approach to outreach and education is consciously non-preachy in the hopes of educating those interested in buying artifacts, instead of alienating them through the more aggressive rhetoric that others have adopted. (This attitude is hard to perfect when emotions run so high in this field.) And bonus, it's fun to read. It can often be easy for knowledgable bloggers to fall into a pit of didactic dryness when they're on a roll, but Donna's posts are always a great blend of excited gushing and genuinely interesting information that make them an easy read. Especially in sea of blogs that, though useful and well-written and super interesting, mostly report the major bummers currently going on. No bummers here, man. Just really great blogging.