Academic journal article Social Education

Is China's Cultural Heritage in Jeopardy? Teaching Activity

Academic journal article Social Education

Is China's Cultural Heritage in Jeopardy? Teaching Activity

Article excerpt

As mentioned in the article, under the Convention on Cultural Property Act, other nations can request that the United States impose import restrictions on specific cultural property. A requesting nation must show that pillaging of the cultural property is jeopardizing the nation's cultural heritage. In making its decision, the executive branch considers the recommendation of a Cultural Property Advisory Committee, established under the Act. The committee is composed of 11 private citizens appointed by the president who have expertise in archaeology, anthropology, and the international sale of cultural property, and represent the public and private sector, local and regional institutions, including museums, and the public. As of March 2007, a request for an import ban from China is pending. In its request, the Chinese government has asked the United States to ban imports of any Chinese artifact made before 1912. During this activity, students will research and evaluate China's request and write a letter to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee supporting or opposing China's request.

Begin by reviewing examples of advocacy letters with students to identify their general characteristics. Examples can be found on the website of the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation. (See the "Current Issues," section at www.culturalheritagelaw.org.) YOU will find a letter about China's request; however, you will want students to come to their own conclusions, so choose from among the other letters available on the site. Note in your review of examples that these advocacy letters adhere to formal letter-writing conventions; demonstrate knowledge of applicable laws and existing conditions relevant to the actions being requested in the letters; and present facts to support the positions being advocated by the letter writers.

Have students individually research China's request. One place to begin is the "Public Summary" on the U.S. Department of State's International Cultural Property website. (See the "What's New" section at exchanges.state. gov/culprop/index.html.) Assign students to find a minimum of two additional credible sources from which they can collect facts to inform their decision making about their positions. …

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