Igor Kopytoff, a practitioner in cultural anthropology, in The Cultural Biography of Things: Communication as Process frames the definition of a commodity as an “item with use value that also has exchange value” (Kopytoff). Kopytoff also explores how in contemporary Western thought physical objects represent the natural universe of commodities while people are place at the opposite pole as representing the natural universe of singularization (Kopytoff). The Buddhas of Bamiyan are established as commodities shown by how Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had offered to buy the statues. This can be interpreted to mean that the sale of cultural heritage is not a crime, but the destruction of it is, because it prevents the cultural heritage of ever being sold or possessed again. The media through equating heritage with ancient artifacts and monuments, turned the discussion of damage to Afghanistan’s past into the territory of commodities as well (Pollack). Thus when cul...
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...age affects the enemy’s property, while the demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan concerns the Afghan Nation’s heritage. Furthermore, the demolition was carefully planned, painstakingly announced to the global media, and cynically documented in all its phases of preparation, bombing and ultimate destruction (Francesco, Lenzerini). In addition, the act was a planned and deliberate act of defiance against the United Nations and the international community.
The examination of the tragic destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban regime, shows how nationalistic regimes wield archaeology as a political tool because of the ideological significance placed on these heritage monuments and artifacts. The loss of heritage that derives or negative heritage is a crime that affects generations to come, as it erases the cultural memory that links the past to the present.
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