Over at Conflict Antiquities, my colleague Sam Hardy blogs about a lot of prescient issues to both archaeology and to war and society today. His latest post is about a show on Channel 5 in Britain, called Battlefield Recovery. There have been major issues with the morality of this show, the appropriateness of digging up people’s remains and selling their items to the highest bidder.
I’ve never watched the show, but I see tweets and commentary by friends and colleagues whom I trust, so I’m sure I don’t want to watch it. But I do watch shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars. Both deal with commodifying “history”, in terms of historical artifacts in the US being worth certain amounts of money. Seriously, on Pawn Stars, which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, people come in to sell a treasured item that their grandfather gave them. Ostensibly, they say they’re cleaning out their house and need to get rid of clutter, or the thing is gathering dust, when you know they need money to gamble. Anyway, although I watch these shows, I’m always bothered by what the shows’ hosts decide is worth of their money or time. Books? Nah. Gold? YES. Anything from any war–the BEST stuff ever.
I’m not saying we cannot collect war memorabilia, but digging it up from an actual battleground where it fell with the person who fell? That’s not something I’m interested in.