Through much of its history, Italy was Europe’s "seat of the arts," an artistic playground for foreign élites and powers who bought, sold, and sometimes plundered millions of artworks and antiquities. Today, Italy asserts control over its cultural heritage through an activist legal model and influential art police unit, which dedicates itself to the eradication of tomb robbing. Italy has turned heritage into cultural power—a controversial convergence of art, money, and diplomacy. This talk explains how modern Italy came to wield such power, and with what effects on the state's political and cultural influence.
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