I've noticed every so often some bloggers will update their site with a "Footnotes" post where they include a few links to relevant material and provide minimal commentary. I used to think this was a second-rate way of keeping readers interested and informed. Why not write a short piece instead? Aren't most stories worth listing also worth writing about? Clearly a bulleted list offers little interpretive value and in some ways cheapens the significance of the story and its message/implications.
Lately, though, I've been considering the merits of the "Footnotes" post. In these lists, readers are alerted to a greater number of topics than in a longer, more focused post, as well as a range of noteworthy stories rather than just those about, say, archaeology, or museums, or cultural events. (Un)fortunately, the quantity and diversity of stories I'd like to cover on Culture in Peril is too huge, therefore the "Footnotes" post allows all of us to remain current on cultural heritage issues when it's needed most. While none of the topics become outdated or obsolete, my goal is to keep readers up to speed without compromising the analytical side of Culture in Peril.
So, not to belabor my point further, here are a few stories/issues for your consideration...
- Zapotec Indians in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico provide a leading example of sustainable community forest ownership and management. Cultural traditions, such as rule by an assembly of equals ("comuneros"), have defined their communities' business model: anybody who dares work for loggers or hunters is branded a traitor and will lose property rights.
- Babylon and other sites of ancient Mesopotamia are finally receiving financial and material support from archaeologists and preservationists to prevent further deterioration. The World Monuments Fund has unveiled a conservation plan while the U.S. State Department has committed $2 million to preserve the surviving ruins, including the two famous ancient cities of Ur and Nimrud. Iraqi officials hope the preservation projects will attract scientists and tourists alike, contributing to the country's cultural and economic revival.
- London's house museums offer a glimpse into the lives and inspirations of aesthetes from the city's past. The stories of the houses' former owners are as rich as the furniture and artwork inside.
- Former director of Little Falls Public Library (New York, USA) laments the "significant loss" of historical material through the sale of objects in the collection. Raises questions about motives for and ethics of deaccession in museums and institutions with collections.
- Film footage of Jackie Robinson discovered in archives at Drew University (New Jersey, USA).
- Residents of Djenne, Mali angered at restrictions on development in their city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People complain of being "frozen in time like pieces in a museum," echoing similar tensions from those presently living at heritage sites across the world.
- Universal Music Group donates over 200,000 recordings from the 1930s-40s to the Library of Congress. Collection includes iconic, rare, and never-digitized tracks from the jazz and pre-rock period. All will be available to the public for free!
If you have newsworthy stories that you would like to see on Culture in Peril, please leave a comment below or email to cultureinperil (at) gmail (dot) com. I'm grateful for all input!