Property : William Keach

Mary Mattingly / Underpass
Mary Mattingly / Underpass

Property / William Keach

These thoughts on the concept of property focus mainly on cultural property; they reflect my current work on literary representations of art objects and antiquities in the period from the French Revolution through the Napoleonic Wars to the post-Napoleonic “restorations” that followed. Byron’s and Keats’s poetic responses to the Parthenon fragments we call the Elgin Marbles, Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” Percy Shelley’s deflected meditation on the British appropriation of a colossal statue of the pharaoh Ramses II in his sonnet “Ozymandias”—these are familiar examples. Less familiar are Felicia Hemans’s patriotic encomium “The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy” and Anna Barbauld’s vision, in “Eighteen Hundred and Eleven,” of museums filled with ancient ruins in a future London that is itself a ruin visited by North American tourists.

A question implicitly posed by all these texts—a question often resisted or evaded—is: Who owns these works of art, these material remains of antiquity? The question may or may not be relevant to reading such poems from the perspective of a then still emergent ideology of the aesthetic. From the perspective of material history, the question is inescapable. The period from 1794 to 1816 saw a massive, unprecedented transfer of artworks and antiquities from one location to another, under conditions of near-global imperialist war. The main routes of transfer were from the Mediterranean and the Middle East to the new public museums in London and Paris—and then, in the case of the Louvre, as the title of Hemans’s poem proclaims, back from Paris to Rome, Venice, Florence, and other European cities. A significant portion of what was transferred also made its way onto the art and antiquities market, and thus into the hands of private collectors. The historical moment I am briefly sketching out here has thus become foundational for current archaeological, art historical, and legal discourses of cultural property.1 I am interested in the ways in which literary texts—produced at a time when their own status as property was being redefined by the 1814 copyright law—negotiated overdetermined revaluations of artworks, antiquities, and ruin sites as cultural property.

For reasons having to do with the persistent influence of ideologies of the aesthetic, it is essential but also perplexing to situate current discourses of cultural property in relation to property theory more generally. Much recent property theory sets out from the enabling premise that property designates not relations of persons to things or to intellectual constructs, but rather relations among persons—among individuals or groups of persons—with respect to things or intellectual constructs. Property is a condition, perhaps also a precondition, of social relations. All this is obvious, but there is something else equally fundamental to the concept of property: it is discursively interdependent with the concept of identity, especially of self-identity. This interdependence is multiply evident in the semantic grammar of English words deriving ultimately from the Latin adjective proprius, “not common with others, one’s own, . . . characteristic, personal.”2 So the first five of ten definitions of proper in the OED include “Belonging to oneself or itself,” “Belonging or relating to the person or thing in question distinctively,” “Strictly belonging or applicable,” “To which the name accurately belongs.” The movement between proper persons and proper things here, and between both and proper names, recurs in definitions of property: “Condition of being owned . . . belonging to,” “That which one owns,” “An attribute or quality belonging to a thing or person,” “The characteristic quality of a person or thing.” Other forms of the proper—like proprietor and propriety—and prefixal formations such as appropriate and expropriate—also depend, if somewhat more remotely, on affirmations of identity and self-identity. We find the same semantic structure in property’s companion concept deriving from the adjective own (“belonging to oneself or itself”). Property and ownership, in their constitutive appeals to identity, differ from possession—which, however, contains its own distinctive link to identity in naming without grammatical qualification both a condition of owning and of being owned.

It is the link between property and identity that Jacques Derrida destabilizes in his writing about the proper name (which he shows to be an impossibility) and in his comments in Specters of Marx (à propos Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens) on the ghostly property-less character of money. The Derridean ghost appears “not without identity . . . but without property, without ‘real’ or ‘personal’ right of property.” “One must analyze the proper of property,” Derrida continues, “and how the general property (Eigentum) of money neutralizes, disincarnates, deprives of its difference all personal property (Eigentümlichkeit).”3 Given the Shakespearean context here, it would have been interesting to see Derrida extend his injunction to “analyze the proper of property” to include theatrical property, as in the first act of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Peter Quince tells his fellow rude mechanicals that he “will draw a bill of properties such as our play wants” (1.2.85-6). Who “owns” theatrical “property” of this kind? In the phantasmatic realms of theater, money, and Derridean hauntology, identity unmoors itself from property. Elsewhere, the desire—the need—for self-identity and property to converge prevails: the one discourse implies the other.

This conjuncture persists in the writing of other theorists, intent on disfiguring or reconfiguring the link between property and identity. In The Fold (Le pli, 1988), Gilles Deleuze argues that the “right to possess my own body” derives not from any “natural” law, but from a socially imposed “moral” imperative that renders bodily possession at once inescapable and ineluctably obscure, provisional.4 Deleuze’s argument is partly convergent with—and undoubtedly a determining influence on—Michel Serres’s account of our desire to possess the world in Le mal propre (2008; the English translation is called Malfeasance: Appropriation Through Pollution). For Serres, as Susan Stewart observes, “our desire to possess the world by ‘cleaning’ or claiming it for ourselves and then throwing the consequent dirt and detritus beyond the bounds of what we deem ‘propre’ . . . has brought about . . . the ruination of ourselves and our world.”5 Serres’s defiantly utopian call for the elimination of property altogether departs entirely from projects involving the transformation of private into common property. What he never manages to leave behind, however, is that ruinous nexus of property and identity that inheres in the very concept of le propre and functions as the negative grounds for the vision of overcoming it.

With the provocations of Derrida, Deleuze, and Serres in mind, I turn back now to the main historical context of this paper and, first, to the most influential articulations of Enlightenment property. Locke starts from the observation that explaining “how any one should ever come to have a Property in any thing,” far from being obvious, is “a very great difficulty” (Two Treatises of Government II.v.25).6 A major part of the difficulty stems from the theistic but potentially revolutionary belief that in the beginning God gave the earth to humankind “in common.” Locke’s response to the difficulty proceeds from the premise that “Though the Earth . . . be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person” (II.v.27). By this he specifically means that the “Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, . . . are properly his.” The dissolution of this account of property as self-possession enacted through labor in Locke’s appalling justification of slavery should not blind us to its theoretical significance.7 The triadic identity-centered constellation of “property,” “person,” and “labour,” in relation to the social assumptions about the “common,” are (as Marx recognized) foundational to the labor theory of value. Of particular interest in Locke’s formulation is the locution “to have a property in,” which may be taken to imply that the individual right to property is predicated on a common as well as an individual human identity. This is why an individual “cannot appropriate . . . without the Consent of his Fellow-Commoners, all Mankind” (II.v.32). “Fellow-Commoners” comes to have the more restricted meaning for Locke of fellow citizens within a specific commonwealth, whose individual political identity as defined by the right to own property is constrained by their status as citizens in a commonwealth whose governing majority has the right to adjudicate conflicts over the right of appropriation.8 The tension between individual appropriation and the collective interests of civil society still remains a source of sharp debate within scholarship on Locke’s theory of the political subject.

Adam Smith uses Locke’s very locution in declaring that “[t]he property which every man has in his own labour . . . is the original foundation of all other property” (The Wealth of Nations I.x.11, my emphasis).9 But Smith does not sustain this stress on the derivation of individual right from an original common right. Instead, he shifts the focus away from the subject’s right to “his” own labor to the appropriating subject’s power over the labor of others: one “must be rich or poor according to the quantity of that labour which he can command, or which he can afford to purchase” (I.v). Social identity is now determined not by the political subject’s own labor, but by “his” power to appropriate the labor of other subjects. Nevertheless, running through most Enlightenment property discourse is the idea that property is always constituted in terms of both individual and collective identity. The implications are important for the post-Enlightenment emergence of an understanding of cultural property as belonging to the collective identities simultaneously of a nation and of all humanity.

Before moving more directly into the discursive sphere of cultural property, however, I want to look briefly at what happens to “the proper of property” in Kant and Hegel. In rejecting the idea that the right to property is constituted through labor, Kant shifts the emphasis in the Doctrine of Right (1790) entirely to the principle of “right” itself—and, by implication, to the view that ethical self-possession precedes and is the pre-condition for the possession of things. On this understanding of property, observes Mary Gregor in “Kant’s Theory of Property,” “the rightful possession of a thing says nothing about my physical possession of it: I may or may not be holding it.” Kant prioritizes “the concept of intelligible or noumenal possession, as distinguished from the empirical concept of sensible, physical or phenomenal possession.”10 This position would appear to imply that any rightful constitution of property in a thing involves a kind of subreptive transfer of a subject’s purely ethical and rightful act to some empirical thing external to that act. This is of great interest because of the way it parallels that aesthetic “error of subreption” (to quote Zachary Sng quoting Kant)11 central to the contemporaneous Critique of Judgment: the subject engaged in aesthetic judgment, Kant says, “will talk about the beautiful as if beauty were a characteristic of the object . . . even though in fact the judgment is only aesthetic and refers to the object’s presentation merely to the subject” (I.i.1.6).12 Kantian appropriation, the claiming of a right to property, asserts the primacy of the rightfully judging subject without regard to the actual possession of anything external to it. “Property” doesn’t appear in the index to the Pluhar translation of the Critique of Judgment, but it should. When the judging subject “proclaims something to be beautiful,” Kant goes on to say, he “judges not just for himself but for everyone, and speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things” (my emphasis). Kantian aesthetic appropriation has a constitutive but paradoxically conditional relation (“as if,” als ob) to the “property of things.”

Thinking about the conjoined aspect of Kantian property and Kantian aesthetic theory invites us to move directly to Marx on commodity form and to Lukács on reification. But this move must, of course, pass through Hegel, whose theorization of property in the Philosophy of Right (1820) begins with an apparent shift away from an emphasis on identity: “The rational aspect of property is to be found not in the satisfaction of needs but in the superseding of mere subjectivity of personality” (I.41).13 By separating property from both the “satisfaction of needs” and from “mere subjectivity,” Hegel reclaims the importance of an “external sphere” necessary to the dialectic of Geist’s or Spirit’s self-realization. ”Property” is an essential result of this dialectic: Hegel proclaims an “absolute right of appropriation which human beings have over all things [Sachen]” (I.44, p. 75). “[T]he circumstance that I, as free will, am an object [gegenständlich] to myself in what I possess and only become an actual will by this means constitutes the genuine and rightful element in possession, the determination of property” (I.45, p. 76). Inequality, needless to say, is at once inherent in and ethically irrelevant to Hegel’s account. It is from this perspective that he reclaims much of the material and social reality marginalized by Kant, including “the immediate physical seizure of something,” “giving [a thing] form” by laboring on it, and “merely designating its ownership” (I. 54, p. 84; Hegel gestures, very schematically, towards what might be called a semiotics of property). “Use” returns as a determining condition for Hegel—but “use” must be absolute to constitute a full right to property: the “partial or temporary possibility of using” a thing is “to be distinguished from the ownership of the thing,” because “Ownership is . . . essentially free and complete ownership” (I.62, p. 90).

All such acknowledgements of historical and social determination are, of course, ultimately subject to the self-realization of Spirit and to its embodiment in the state: the “determinations which concern private property,” Hegel asserts, must “be subordinated to higher spheres of rights, such as a community or the state” (I.46, 77). This leads, significantly from my perspective, to an account of public property that includes a recognition of the distinctive role of public cultural property: “Public memorials are national property, or more precisely—like works of art in general without regard to their use [Benutzung]—it is their indwelling soul of remembrance and honour which gives them their validity as living and self-sufficient ends; but if this soul abandons them, they are then in this respect ownerless as far as the nation is concerned and become contingent private possessions” (I.64, p. 94).14

It is important to my argument that this claim by Hegel was written and published in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. When the discourse of cultural property emerges in the nineteenth century, it doesn’t do so primarily within formal philosophy—nor, for that matter, within specifically legal doctrine. William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1767), with its compromise between Lockean “natural” rights and Hobbesian “conventional” rights, makes no special provisions for cultural monuments, objects or sites, and leaves them undifferentiated from other kinds of movable and immovable property. Nor, some forty years later and on the other side (in more ways than one) of the French Revolution, does the Code Napoléon (1804). Despite its massive redefinition of property rights generally, the Code Napoléon has nothing particular to say about works of art, archaeological sites and objects, or public monuments.

Cultural property, first explicitly defined in the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, develops gradually in the nineteenth century out of the immediate circumstances of revolution and war: through French debates in the 1790s regarding the public expropriation of artworks and antiquities from the church and the old ruling class; through Napoleon’s militarily enforced treaties with European—particularly Italian—princes and the Pope, treaties that set the terms for the relocation of thousands of objects to the newly created public museum in the Louvre; through debates in the British Parliament over the government’s purchasing of the Parthenon sculptures from Lord Elgin; and through the formal policies established by the Congress of Vienna after the defeat of Napoleon for restituting expropriated artworks and antiquities to the palaces, churches, and museums from which they had been taken. There is now an enormous archive of legal as well as archaeological scholarship detailing the formation of the part of international law addressed to public (i.e., national) cultural property, which operates through UNESCO and the Hague Conventions, and the part addressed to private cultural property, which operates through UNIDROIT (Institut International Pour l’Unification du Droit Privé/International Institute for the Unification of Private Law).15 The latter is centered, ironically, in a seventeenth-century palazzo in Rome that became the private residence of General François Miollis while he was in charge of the Napoleonic occupation of Rome from 1809 to 1814.

In both its public and its private modalities, modern cultural property law is constituted on the basis of a fundamental contradiction: on the one hand, the right of nation-states to claim ownership of artworks and antiquities made and/or found within their national borders; on the other, the right of universal protection and access based on the belief that “art” is the common property of all humanity. These are the unstable terms in which the relation of property to identity is now projected as a globalized question.16

Our understanding of the problematic of cultural property needs to include a rethinking of Bourdieu’s theory and analysis of cultural capital. The concepts of “property,” “commodity form,” and “reification” are marginalized, even suppressed, in Bourdieu’s writing—mainly because of his desire to distance himself from the Marxist sociological and political mainstream in France during the 1970s and 80s. As a result, Bourdieu’s critically important accounts of the ways in which aesthetic ideology and cultural institutions consolidate class identity and class rule sometimes fail to specify the powerful interactions between cultural and other forms of material and financial property. Reification is especially significant in this regard, since it names the mystified transfer of social relations and actions to the physical products of those relations and actions—a transfer embedded, as we have seen, in conceptions of property that understand the possession of things as self-possession. Furthermore, Bourdieu’s analysis of cultural capital tends to confine itself to force fields within a national model of the ways in which the production, reproduction, and dissemination of cultural forms and practices help create and reinforce class distinctions.17 Thinking of cultural capital also in relation to transnational flows of cultural property enables us to see the politics of cultural power and access as an aspect of broader formations of economic and military empire.

I’ll close by looking at two very different representations of imperial ruination from a perspective in which cultural capital and cultural property may be seen to converge. The ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which everyone these days knows as a site where ISIS has demonstrated its control by destroying architectural monuments of great value, was at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century a scene of radical political instruction. In 1791 the historian and philosopher Constantin François Volney published a book whose earliest English translations are titled The Ruins, or Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires. It represents a western traveler contemplating the ruins of Palmyra and being conducted by a specter emanating from those ruins to an understanding of the history of human oppression and division, and eventually to an alternative vision of rationalist republican liberation (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Volney, The Ruins, frontispiece. Paris, 1802.

The book was remarkably influential throughout the nineteenth century: Percy Shelley’s vision of “Palmyra’s ruined palaces!” with their “memory / Of senselessness and shame” that “give / An awful warning” to the modern world in Canto 2 of Queen Mab (1813) is one of the best-known examples.18

Like Volney, Shelley appears to be uninterested in Palmyra as a repository of unique cultural property and heritage. This despite the fact that in Volney’s previous book, the Travels Through Syria and Egypt in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785, the archaeological treasures of Palmyra are described in great detail. Startlingly, Volney never actually visited Palmyra during his travels through Syria; he relied instead on Robert Wood’s The Ruins of Palmyra; otherwise Tedmor in the Desart, an elegant, expensive book published simultaneously in English and in French in 1753 and containing some of the most architecturally influential engravings of the eighteenth century.19 The book is itself a monument of both cultural property and cultural capital, important especially because of its investment in the classical architecture of Palmyra constructed during the 2nd century AD when Syria was a province of the Roman Empire.

For Shelley and his contemporaries Palmyra was both a repository of imperial ruin culture and a scene of future-oriented political instruction. For our moment Palmyra has been recurrently reduced almost entirely to a repository of cultural property. “Palmyra Temple Was Destroyed by ISIS” ran the headline in The New York Times for August 31, 2015. On October 4 the headline was “ISIS Destroys Another Monument at Palmyra”; on October 5, “ISIS Destroys Triumphal Arches in Palmyra.” In the latter article there is at least a single sentence saying that the triple triumphal arch “was built by the Romans to celebrate a victory over the Persians.” But nothing is done to draw out the possible significance of Palmyra as a site of empire in ruins—of the possible political meaning of ISIS’s ruining these particular ruins of empire (“Rome” figures prominently and symbolically in ISIS ideology).20 Everything is subordinated to the pathos of a lost cultural heritage assumed to be universal. The most spectacular public enactment of this attitude was the three-day display last April in Trafalgar Square of a replica of an Arch of Triumph from Palmyra destroyed by ISIS in October 2015. Unveiling the replica, which was generated through 3D digital technology and fabricated in Italy from Egyptian marble, London mayor Boris Johnson declared solidarity with the Syrian people “in defiance of the barbarians who destroyed the original.”21 Photographs of the event show a proprietary Johnson posing in front of the simulated arch, with the monuments of British nationalism and empire—the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column—in the background (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. “Syria’s Palmyra arch, destroyed by IS, recreated in London.” AP Photo/Frank Augstein (

Apart from reports of the gruesome execution on August 18 of Khalid al-Asaad, an archaeologist who devoted his life to studying and protecting the ruin monuments, far more attention has been given to Palmyran cultural property than to the people who still live in the city. To be fair, it must also be acknowledged that in Volney and Shelley a different kind of subordination is evident—a virtual erasure of present social existence to make room for visions of future political transformation.

My second example—one in which personal, national, and transnational versions of the property:identity connection are flamboyantly on display—is less grim. Between 1802 and 1806 Antonio Canova, the most important sculptor in Italy and a major participant on first the French and then the British side of their superpower cultural rivalry, made a larger-than-life nude statue of Napoleon in the guise of the god Mars—defiantly fig-leafed, holding in his right hand a gilded figure of Victory standing on an orb, and in his left hand a large staff. (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Antonio Canova, “Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker,” 1806. London, Apsley House. (Wikipedia).

The statue is usually called “Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker” in English; in Italian it’s “Napoleone Bonaparte come Marte pacificatore”; in French, “Napoléon en Mars désarmé et pacificateur.”)22

Before beginning work on his nude Napoleon, Canova had gone to Paris and made a bust of the Emperor preliminary to sculpting the entire figure. The finished version was sent in due course from Rome to the Musée Napoléon (as the Louvre was called at the time). But in 1811 Napoleon rejected it and banned its display. It was eventually placed in the “Salle des Hommes Illustrés”—but hidden from view behind a canvas screen. One person who may have seen it under these conditions was the Duke of Wellington, on a visit to Paris following the first defeat of Napoleon in March 1814. In 1816 the restored Louis XVIII sold the statue to the British government for 66,000 francs.

Fig. 4. “Augustus Ruling the World.” Roman copy of 5th-cent. BC Greek original by Polyclitus. Rome, Capitoline Museum.

A year later Wellington bought Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner, also know as “Number One London,” from his elder brother the 1st Marquess Wellesley, upon which acquisition the Prince Regent gave Wellington Canova’s “Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker” (the gift of a grateful nation). Wellington had the statue installed at the bottom of the elegant spiral staircase designed, like the rest of Apsley House, by Robert Adam. We can assume that Napoleon did not—and that Wellington did—appreciate the historical irony of the statue’s new ownership and location. It still stands there today, part of the Apsley House collection that includes a substantial group of “old master” paintings confiscated by the British from Spanish royal collections in 1813 when Napoleon’s brother Joseph was forced to give up his job as King of Spain.23 Such are the unexpected twists in the fate of cultural property possessed and repossessed under shifting imperialist pressures. Canova’s statue and the King of Spain’s paintings weren’t exactly sold on the open market. But their value as cultural capital, then and now, seems apparent nonetheless.

Byron detested Wellington as the public face of post-Waterloo British triumphalism, and he was persistently skeptical about inflations of power and privilege through accumulations of cultural property. “I am not a collector or admirer of collections” he says in a note to Canto 2 of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which includes his famous attack on Lord Elgin.24 Although there is no evidence that anyone wrote to Byron in Italy to tell him about Wellington’s acquisition of Canova’s “Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker,” I find it impossible to resist imagining Byron’s response to it. He would certainly have enjoyed the punning possibilities of pairing “p[ie]ce-maker” with the common references in contemporary British satire to Napoleon’s “boney part.”25 What Byron does resoundingly demonstrate in the opening stanzas of Canto 9 of his epic satire Don Juan is that Wellington’s proper name is not his own property:

Oh Wellington! (or ‘Vilainton’, for Fame
Sounds the heroic syllables both ways.
France could not even conquer your great name,
But punned it down to this facetious phrase—
Beating or beaten she will laugh the same.)
(9. 1-5)

Improperly spoiling Wellington’s grand name by sounding its syllables “both ways” has a relation to seeing Canova’s statue as a piece that, in more ways than one, swings both ways. Reducing Wellington’s identity to that of a vilain would have found its perfect ironic counterpart in Wellington’s appropriation of a famous monument of cultural property that Napoleon had hidden away. What a splendid recognition that, as Byron says, “Britain owes (and pays you too) so much” (9. 17). £200,000, in fact, was what members of Parliament gave Wellington when they heard of his victory at Waterloo. At £35,000, Parliament’s purchase of the Elgin Marbles the following year was a steal.

1. For useful overviews of cultural property scholarship, see Who Owns the Past? Cultural Policy, Cultural Property, and the Law, ed. Kate Fitz Gibbon (New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2005); Imperialism, Art and Restitution, ed. John Henry Merryman (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006); and Margaret M. Miles, Art as Plunder: The Ancient Origins of Debate about Cultural Property (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008). The operative concept of “cultural property” in this scholarship is set out in the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954. It includes three categories: (1) “movable or immovable property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people, such as monuments of architecture, art or history; archaeological sites; groups of buildings . . . of historical or artistic interest; works of art; manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest; as well as scientific collections and important collections of books or archives or of reproductions of the property defined above”; (2) “buildings whose main and effective purpose it to preserve or exhibit . . . movable cultural property”; (3) “centers containing a large amoung of cultural property.” The book I am now completing on the ruins of empire and Romantic cultural property will offer a critical rethinking of the circular and unexamined concept of “culture” in the Hague Convention formulation by engaging the arguments of Raymond Williams, Pierre Bourdieu, and others.

2. Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879, 1969).

3. Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, trans. Peggy Kamuf (London: Routledge, 1994), 41-2. For Derrida’s other work on the proper name, see On the Name, ed. Thomas Dutoit (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995).

4. Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992), 120-22.

5. Susan Stewart, “Sacred Dirt,” The Los Angeles Review of Books (

6. All quotations are from John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (New York: New American Library, 1963).

7. See Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Talk to Me Like I’m Stupid: Locke’s State of Slavery and War,” The Atlantic, April 27, 2011.

8. See Gregory Alexander and Eduardo Peñalver, An Introduction to Property Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 40-56.

9. All quotations are from Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. Edwin Cannan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976).

10. Mary Gregor, Review of Metaphysics 41 (1988): 774.

11. Zachary Sng, The Rhetoric of Error from Locke to Kleist (Stanford: Stanford University of Press, 2010), 11; see also 78-91, 93-101.

12. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. Werner S. Pluhar (Cambridge, MA: Hackett, 1987, 54. All quotations are from this edition.

13. G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, ed. Allen Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 73. All quotations are from this edition.

14. Consider the following earlier English translation of this passage: “Public monuments are national property, so long as they are of worth through the indwelling soul of national honor and traditions. Deprived of this national spirit, they become masterless, and are thus the fair booty of any individual who chooses to take them.” The Philosophy of Hegel, trans. J.M. Sterrett and Carl J. Friedrich (New York: Modern Library, 1954), 250.

15. The standard introduction to the field, initially developed for use in courses at Stanford Law School, is John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen, Law, Ethics, and the Visual Arts (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987). For a useful example of work that connects French Revolutionary and Napoleonic developments to current debates, see Paige S. Goodwin, “Mapping the Limits of Repatriable Cultural Heritage: A Case Study of Stolen Flemish Art in French Museums,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 157 U. Pa. L. Rev. 673 (2008).

16. See Goodwin, “Mapping the Limits,” 684, and Merryman, Imperialism, Art and Restitution, 12-14.

17. For an informative effort that runs counter to my own perspective on this question, see Bourdieu in International Relations, ed. Rebecca Adler-Nissen (London: Routledge, 1997).

18. Quoted from Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, ed. Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat (New York: New York: Norton, 2002).

19. See Wessel Krul, “Volney, Frankenstein, and the Lessons of History,” Revolutionary Histories: Cultural Crossings 1775-1875, ed. W. M. Verhoeven (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 219, for a summary of scholarship on Volney’s relation to Wood.

20. See Graeme Wood, “Donald Trump and the Apocalypse,” The Atlantic (February 22, 2016). A New York Times article on March 28, 2016 is titled “Syrian Army Claims It Fully Recaptured Historic Palmyra From ISIS.” The sub-title is “Praise for Assad, and hope for antiquities.”

21. Mark Brown, “Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph recreated in Trafalgar Square, “The Guardian (19 April 2016).

22. The prototype of Canova’s statue is “Augustus Ruling the World,” an imperial Roman adaptation in the Capitoline Museum of a 5th-century BC Greek statue by Polyclitus. See Fig. 4.

23. See Jonah Siegel, “Owning Art after Napoléon: Destiny or Destination at the Birth of the Museum,” PMLA 125 (2010): 142-51.

24. Byron’s Poetry and Prose, ed. Alice Levine (New York: Norton, 2010), 84. Subsequent quotations of Byron are from this edition.

25. For a grotesquely Deleuzian posthumous example of losing ownership of one’s body in the pathologies of Napoleonic cultural property, see Ishaan Tharoor, “The strange journey of Napoleon’s penis,” The Washington Post (June 19, 2015).