by Joanna Ostapkowicz (Editor, Contributor), Jonathan A. Hanna (Editor, Contributor)
Publisher: University Alabama Press; First Edition
Publication date: April 20, 2021
Hardcover: 352 pages
“Real, Recent, or Replica: Precolumbian Caribbean Heritage as Art, Commodity, and Inspiration” is a groundbreaking exploration of previously overlooked subjects within Caribbean archaeology, delving into the issues of heritage site looting, the proliferation of fraudulent artifacts, and the illicit trade of archaeological materials.
This book is the first of its kind, shining a spotlight on the growing commodification of Caribbean Precolumbian heritage, specifically Amerindian art, including what is often referred to as “Taíno” art. This unique heritage has garnered immense interest from collectors, sparking a thriving and increasingly sophisticated underground market for forged pieces. Simultaneously, contemporary artists are openly drawing inspiration from this heritage, creating modern works of art rooted in the past.
Within the pages of this volume, contributors confront challenging and pressing topics, such as the ongoing looting of archaeological sites throughout the region, the alarming surge in forged artifacts, and the inherent disparities in power and economic dynamics between those who produce and those who consume neo-Amerindian art.
The case studies contained in this book reveal the extensive history of forgeries in the Caribbean, dating back to the late nineteenth century. They also address the protective measures and policies enacted by Caribbean governments and institutions to safeguard their national heritage. Furthermore, these studies explore how the presence of looted and forged artifacts impacts the strategies used by museums and institutions in collecting and representing the Caribbean’s historical legacy to their audiences.
In essence, this volume underscores the persistent and unwavering demand for “authentic” Precolumbian artifacts, regardless of the associated costs. It offers valuable insights and guidance for archaeologists, museum professionals, art historians, and collectors on combating illicit trade and aiding communities in establishing sustainable heritage industries.
Notable contributors to this volume include Dr. L. Antonio Curet, who provides the epilogue, and Peter E. Siegel, responsible for the foreword. Additional contributors encompass a diverse array of experts and scholars in the field, each offering their unique perspectives and insights on these critical issues in Caribbean archaeology and heritage preservation.
“Real, Recent, or Replica is an important contribution to the study of the pre-Columbian Caribbean, one of the less-well-known areas of Americanist archaeology, and to the history of art forgery. In the preface and introduction, Ostapkowicz and Hanna provide a highly readable overview of the ethical and practical problems created by the historically close relationships among looters, collectors, dealers, museum curators, and, regrettably, some field archaeologists.”—Journal of Anthropological Research
“An unprecedented exploration of the furtive practices of collecting, faking, and looting as they entangle the scholarly study of Caribbean archaeology and ethnohistory. Local in focus but global in impact, the book has much to teach us about the consequences and unintended consequences of public policy’s embrace of cultural heritage.” (Neil Brodie, coeditor of Illicit Antiquities: The Theft of Culture and the Extinction of Archaeology)
“This important volume explores the practical and ethical challenges of interpreting pre-Columbian Caribbean art and artifacts. Ten chapters use reproductions and looted indigenous objects as a lens to critically address the history of archaeological research in the Caribbean and to reflect on the ways these materials have hampered efforts to properly represent pre-Columbian history. The replication of pre-Columbian art is both a celebration and fetishization of the indigenous Caribbean past. The editors provide an overview of the history of reproductions and looted materials and assess their impact on public heritage efforts. Replicas of indigenous art are often produced within a framework of nationalist ideologies, which have been used to challenge colonial and imperialist agendas. A must-read for Caribbean archaeologists and museum specialists. Highly recommended.”(CHOISE)
“Real, Recent, or Replica raises important questions and contributes to anthropological perspectives on the entangled and complicated history of collecting, looting, fakes, replicas, authenticity, and cultural heritage. It is encouraging to see that archaeologists in the Caribbean are thinking about these issues.” (Mary Jane Berman, Miami University) amazon.com