The economic valuation of cultural heritage —whether protected and developed or illegally looted and exported—is among the most pressing practical research questions in the fields of both Cultural Heritage Studies and Community Development. What price in dollars or social value does heritage have in the 21st century? How is heritage marketed and sold in an era of rampant globalization and neoliberalism?
On the one hand, nations, regions, cities, and even small towns are investing significant public funds in the development and public presentation of archaeological sites, historic monuments, and historic districts in the hope of economic revitalization through tourism or increased property values. On the other, unprecedented diplomatic and legal measures are being taken to repatriate looted cultural property and put an end to the enormously profitable antiquities trade. What is happening on the ground? What types of heritage are being marketed, returned, or sold, and for what purposes? Who stands to gain from these processes?