Archive for ‘Research’

17/08/2021

organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence

I’m delighted to say that my open-source research into organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence has been published in the open-access Antichistica of Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Following on from a proof-of-concept study of using open-source data to identify participation in the illicit antiquities trade, an archaeological and historical study of destruction, theft and rescue of archaeological artefacts in Cyprus and a netnography of online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, this piece explores the history of Turkey-rooted organised crime, including the existence of politically-“protected criminals [Korunan suçlular]” who have served state interests.

It examines the development of the Turkish antiquities mafia over six decades, the functioning of a Turkish-Cypriot antiquities gang from the civil war through the foreign invasions into the occupation and the activities of a Turkish multi-commodity gang in and around the state.

It also traces connections between Mexican narcotraffickers who also handle cultural goods, Turkish ultranationalists who self-finance with narcotic substances and cultural goods and Turkish state-backed Syrian Turkmen jihadists, plus the operations of a Syrian Turkmen jihadist who served as a Turkish intelligence agent and who trafficked antiquities as well as arms.

Amongst these and other things, such as interactions of organised crime with political violence and the rule of law, it draws out evidence of women’s participation in cultural property crime.

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10/08/2021

It is not against the law, if no one can see you: Online social organisation of artefact-hunting in former Yugoslavia

I’m happy to say that it is not against the law, if no one can see you: online social organisation of artefact-hunting in former Yugoslavia has been published in the Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, as part of a special collection on fighting illicit trade in antiquities with digital technology.

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01/06/2021

Treasure-hunters ‘even from Sweden’, organised criminals and ‘lawless’ police in the Eastern Mediterranean: Online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus

I’m grateful that my monster study of treasure-hunters ‘even from Sweden’, organised criminals and ‘lawless’ police in the Eastern Mediterranean: online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus has been published in the open-access Revista d’Arqueologia de Ponent, in a special issue that spans Argentina, Spain, the United Kingdom, Lebanon, Syria and further afield, including Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Yemen.

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20/05/2021

Conflict antiquities’ rescue or ransom? The cost of buying back stolen cultural property in contexts of political violence.

Happily, following the “first half” of my study on private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods: the material and social consequences and the complicity of Europe and North America in the International Journal for Criminal Justice and Social Democracy, I’ve published the “second half” on conflict antiquities‘ rescue or ransom? The cost of buying back stolen cultural property in contexts of political violence in the International Journal of Cultural Property. Both are open-access publications.

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06/10/2020

Private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods: The material and social consequences and the complicity of Europe and North America

In an article in the International Journal for Criminal Justice and Social Democracy, I assess the risks of private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods.

Apart from funding crime and receiving the proceeds of crime, other studies of negligent and criminal collecting have demonstrated consequences such as destruction of knowledge through looting and misdirection of science through use of forgeries (Chippindale and Gill 2000; Gill and Chippindale 1993; Muscarella 2001; Nørskov 2002); incentivisation of corruption (Hardy 2019a); interference with the rule of law (Keenan 2005; Hardy 2019a); and the degradation of sources of cultural and socio-economic resilience for indigenous and other vulnerable communities in authoritarian states (Keenan 2005).

Drawing on cases of looting and theft in Guatemala, Iran, Bulgaria and Angola, plus thefts of artefacts across Europe to supply collectors in China and fraudulent offers of cultural goods to vulnerable communities in the United States, I demonstrate buyers’ risk of financing organised crime, fraud, money-laundering and reputation-laundering and authorities’ risk of facilitating that financing.

As the toleration or facilitation of private “rescue”-by-purchase ‘enables and encourages people with political and economic power to increase their influence and assets’, while the state continues ‘to police and punish the people who extract and supply those assets’, it is also a threat to the rule of law.

Citation

Hardy, S A. 2020: “Private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods: The material and social consequences and the complicity of Europe and North America”. International Journal for Criminal Justice and Social Democracy, Volume 9, Number 3. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.v10i1.1526

24/06/2020

trafficking of forgeries by forced migrants and forced migrants as false provenances for forgeries

While I was piecing together English-language evidence of looting and trafficking of antiquities by internally-displaced persons and internationally-displaced persons, I looked at Turkish-language evidence, too. For a variety of reasons, it shed most light on trafficking of forgeries by forced migrants and supposed purchases from forced migrants as false provenances for forgeries.

From the very beginning, it must be borne in mind that only around one per cent of all suspected cultural property criminals in Turkey do not have Turkish nationality (cf. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Adli Sicil ve İstatistik Genel Müdürlüğü, 2019: 46 – table 2-13). Irresponsible discussion is dangerous discussion. Still, there is cultural property crime by non-citizens; it is bound up with conflict and crisis; and it is being discussed irresponsibly, through ignorance and malice. None of that can be addressed by silence.

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11/05/2020

Turkey’s Gendarmerie caught a Covid-19-infected, health emergency worker-impersonating antiquities trafficker

Profit-driven criminals are adapting to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and networks such as the Alliance to Counter Crime Online and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime are monitoring these interactions between the health emergency and illicit activity. The Wildlife Justice Commission has documented adaptations in poaching and trafficking of wildlife.

Such criminals are also exploiting the opportunities of the crisis, notably through cybercrime, fraud, extortion, counterfeit and substandard goods, and organised property crime (which is often advanced by impersonating health professionals or government officials). S-3 Research has documented various online scams around coronavirus test kits. And the Counter Extremism Project has documented that extremist movements are exploiting the crisis too.

The Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology (ATHAR) Project has documented increases in antiquities looting and online trafficking through online communities that span North Africa and West Asia, plus advertisement of (alleged) personal protective equipment (PPE), ‘including face masks, antibacterial gel and even Covid-19 testing kits’ in those online communities. (fn1)

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30/04/2020

the international conference on Handling of Cultural Goods and Financing of Political Violence, at the Norwegian Institute in Rome, has been postponed

It is slightly strange to announce the postponement of a conference that itself has not been announced. Still, due to the safety measures for the coronavirus pandemic, the conference at the Norwegian Institute in Rome will not happen on the 7th-8th of May; it will be postponed until autumn or winter (or whenever restrictions on international travel are lifted).

When it happens, this international conference on Handling of Cultural Goods and Financing of Political Violence will bring together people who work in academia, cultural heritage, law enforcement and human rights, to discuss looting, theft, forgery and trafficking of cultural property from North Africa, West Asia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere, plus handling of illicit goods in Western Europe and North America, where markets consume art and antiquities without due diligence and online markets operate without effective governance. There will be a particular focus on conflict financing, with a broad view that encompasses everything from terrorist financing to regime enrichment.

02/04/2020

fuelling of an illicit market and financing of political violence in Syria, feeding of propaganda around the world

In the course of expanding a study (into two studies) of the practice of “rescue”-by-purchase of looted antiquities, I traced out a case, that I mentioned before in the context of fake conflict antiquities, that intertwined destruction and looting in Syria; behaviour of law enforcement agencies in source and transit countries and businesses in market countries; the politics and economics of the war in Syria; and propaganda within Syria, across the region and around the world.

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13/11/2019

reputation-laundering through the art market in Europe

greenwashing/brownwashing of misconduct

There is already concern about greenwashing or brownwashing of repressive regimes and other exploitative systems through collaboration of cultural institutions with governments and corporations. Within the cultural sector, there is particular concern about complicity in potentially unethical or illegal environmentally-destructive activities and/or socially-violent activities that displace or otherwise mistreat indigenous and other resident communities. And efforts at greenwashing/brownwashing persist around processes of global governance.

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