hobby lobby’s parallel universe of antiquity studies

Interesting article about the effect of privatisation on the resources of an academic discipline and much else besides. I suppose this sort of thing follows from industrialization


An artist’s sketch of the Museum of the Bible, currently under construction. Source.

The following is a guest post by Fiona Greenland.

Last week’s news that Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby faced civil forfeiture for illegally importing Iraqi antiquities came as no surprise to cultural property experts. The company had been under scrutiny since 2015, when news of the investigation broke. And even before the investigation, scholars, including Roberta Mazza, an ancient historian at the University of Manchester, identified inconsistencies in the provenance histories, or ownership records, of antiquities obtained for Hobby Lobby-backed Museum of the Bible. Equally unsurprising in the wake of the forfeiture announcement were the muddled claims about Hobby Lobby funding ISIS. The forfeited antiquities at the heart of the civil complaint were shipped in late 2010 and early 2011 – prior to the period when ISIS is known to have been associated with archaeological looting in…

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all persons are fictional

I’m reading this and I’m thinking does this mean I don’t exist? Whatever it’s all good thought provoking stuff I think you’ll agree.


In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decisions, there have been renewed discussions of corporate personhood. The argument is relatively simple: the 19th century Supreme Court made a mistake when it created the legal fiction that corporations are persons. I don’t want to get into that argument here. Instead, I want to make a slightly different argument: all persons are fictions.

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Post the third: Currently reading

I’m always reading loads of books at once. It’s probably a bad habit but usually I get round to finishing them off eventually. Mind you as I think about it there’s probably dozens maybe even hundreds in this category. I’ll almost certainly not get round to finishing them all, even if I can remember what they all are. But who cares?, anyway here’s a quick list of some I’m in some expectation of actually finishing.

1) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. An example of hysterical realism I’m told. It’s the sort of thing I tend to enjoy. I don’t really like plots but I do respond to atmosphere I guess. There’s plenty of this here.

2) Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno.  Enjoying this so far. Written as a set of attributed footnotes but quite readable.  It’s a biography of the writer of The Catcher in The Rye, who it seems was damaged by his wartime experience.

3) The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan an account of the D-day landings in which Salinger was involved.

4) The Desert War. A Purnell’s History of WW2 Special – one my favourite books from my younger days. I counted over 50 campaign and battle maps plus numerous illustrations of equipment,  weapons and vehicles. Great stuff really, especially when your 13. Let’s create a few Memoir 44 scenarios out of this lot!

5) The Battle of the Atlantic by John Costello and Terry Hughes. The story of the U-boats and the Atlantic convoys they were attacking in WW2.  Published in the 70’s and a book I read as a schoolboy. Still worth a read today.

6) The Moscow Option by David Downing.  Alternative WW2 ‘history’ from the early 80’s. What happens when Hitler is put into a coma by a plane crash in early August 1941? All quite interesting.

This alt history seems to be all the rage at the moment although traditionally I think historians have frowned upon it, regarding it as empty speculation. Maybe it’s a sign of the times.



Write a bit more to see how it looks. That story in the Guardian by Helen Pidd about the Manchester Chinese bike hire scheme’s teething troubles was darkly comic maybe. Manchester clearly isn’t Singapore. 

First blog post

This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

My plan is just to have some motivation to write stuff regularly.  I’m mainly going to witter on interestingly one hopes about my various interests and whatever’s catching my eye on the day. What am I interested in? Well I like reading history and military history and anything spinning off from that which is potentially a lot! I like boardgames and wargaming too. A bit of science, maths and music provides alternative diversions and finally playing a bit of guitar and keyboard makes a change.  I like science fiction quite a bit and spin offs and movies. I might go on about any of this and any thing else I’m temporarily bothered about.  Oh and the history of ideas etc. Etc. Oh and food and drink; mainly drink if I’m honest.