By Christina Emery, Archaeology
Advisor: Robert Haug
Abstract: This paper will examine the commodification of a Classical identity by London, the capital of the United Kingdom. This is important as it will shed light on the commodification of culture through architectural motifs and repatriation of artifacts, and the claiming a different culture's heritage. I chose this topic as I am interested in how cultures relate to one another through use of material culture, one of many currently important anthropological topics. This project will serve as a case study for the commodification of material culture and how it influences the identity of current nations. Over the past several hundred years, Classical motifs have come to represent civilization due to how successful their cultures were at their height. The objective of this study is to prove how this commodification of cultural identities has allowed the United Kingdom to become an important figure on the international stage by legitimizing their claim to high culture, as well as London's claim as an international city. Data was gathered on the presence or absence of Classical architectural motifs on buildings of cultural importance, such as museums and governmental structures. I also investigate repatriation efforts made by the British Museum of their Classical artifacts. I found that London's modern identity is founded in the Classical sense of high culture and civilization that was gained and legitimized through the commodification of Classical artifacts and architecture.