- Created on Friday, 03 December 2010 00:00
- Written by BCRPM
03 December 2010
New Chairman for the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles
PROFESSOR Anthony Snodgrass retired from his position as the chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (www.parthenonuk.com and twitter BCRPM) and it was announced former MP Eddie O’Hara would take over the position.
Eddie O’Hara recently retired after 20 years as MP for Knowsley South and describes himself as “an unreconstituted classicist and lifelong supporter of the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles”.
Throughout his parliamentary career he tirelessly promoted the case for the Marbles to be returned to Athens, using various means including Early Day Motions, parliamentary questions, debates, meetings with ministers and the presentation of a Museums Bill, whose purpose was to remove any question as to whether museum trustees could divest themselves of objects in their collections.
Eddie O’Hara commented: “Professor Snodgrass has earned universal respect for the dignity and scholarship with which he graced the campaign and I am very much looking forward to carrying on his great work and continuing to campaign for the Parthenon Marbles to be returned to Athens.”
The British Museum has deployed a seductive new argument against their return. They have argued that the British Museum is one of a small number of ‘encyclopaedic’ museums, such as the Louvre and the New York Metropolitan Museum, and that the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum form part of a wider narrative of the development of western art together with outside influences upon it. They believe to return them would damage the integrity of this narrative.
Eddie O’Hara disagrees with these arguments and believes there are many other exemplars that the Greek Government could make available to replace the Marbles that wouldn’t damage the integrity of their narrative.
Eddie O’Hara also believes the British Museum overstates its case when it says that after two centuries in its collection the Marbles no longer play a part in any Greek narrative.
He comments: “They should not put narratives in competition with each other but if they do surely the most important story to be told by and on behalf of the Marbles is that they form an integral unity with those in Athens, and together they form an integral unity with one of the most important historical monuments in the world.”
Eddie O’Hara concurs with Eleni Cubitt, Hon Secretary of the Committee as he would welcome a credible response to the argument for the return of the Marbles on the grounds of human rights. The Faro Convention proposes that for a cultural community to be deprived of enjoyment of its cultural heritage is a violation of its human rights.
“The Greeks are a cultural community as defined by the convention and the Marbles are part of the cultural heritage with which they identify. Where there is a dispute good practice as defined by the convention includes measures to look at cooperation and reconciliation of these differences” concludes Eddie O’Hara.
Eddie O’Hara studied Literae Humaniores at Magdalen College, Oxford and has been General Rapporteur for the Cultural Heritage and Museums Rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Professor Anthony Snodgrass Fellow of the British Academy, Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology, University of Cambridge held the position of Chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures from 2002 to 01 July 2010. His predecessor was the erudite Arts Campaigner Graham Binns (1997 -2002).
Since its foundation in 1983, the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (www.parthenonuk.com) has achieved a great deal. Significant milestones include:
- Success in persuading the British Museum to refer to the Marbles as the Parthenon Marbles instead of the Elgin Marbles. Also the gallery in the British Museum was renamed the Parthenon Gallery.
- Taking an instrumental role in the publication of Christopher Hitchens' book on the Parthenon Marbles, the third edition of which - The Parthenon Marbles: The Case for Reunification - with a preface by Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer, was launched in London at the end of May 2008.
- Initiating and organising many public debates on the topic, all of which the British Museum has refused to participate in. The last debate, chaired by Professor Anthony Snodgrass, Chairman of the BCRPM, took place at Cambridge University in February 2008. The final vote was 114 for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures and 46 against.
The latest Mori poll results of September 2008 showed that 69% of those familiar with the Marbles debate support return, as opposed to 19% who oppose it (50% of the 2,109 people asked had knowledge of the Marbles debate).
The archives of the BCRPM have been donated to Kings College, London and these can be found in the Department of Greek History.