Posts tagged ‘corruption’


online trafficking of cultural objects from crisis zones and conflict zones and open-source analysis of the illicit trade

Thanks to the support of the Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology (Nordisk Samarbejdsråd for Kriminologi), I was able to participate in their Research Seminar on Crime, Crime Control and Criminology in the Digital Era in Helsingør, Denmark, on the 8th-10th May 2019.

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‘black archaeology’ in Eastern Europe: metal detecting, illicit trafficking of cultural objects, and ‘legal nihilism’ in Belarus, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine

I’m happy to say that Public Archaeology has published my article on ‘black archaeology’ in Eastern Europe: metal detecting, illicit trafficking of cultural objects, and ‘legal nihilism’ in Belarus, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.

There is an open-access postprint copy, as well as the paywalled official publication. You can also contact me.

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“mere” corruption, political insecurity and conflict antiquities trafficking in Cyprus and Turkey

When considering trafficking of and markets for (fake) conflict antiquities, it is helpful to remember that cultural property crime can be connected with common problems, such as corruption and oppression, in uncommon ways. Furthermore, disparate cases can sometimes help to interpret one another.

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every story about Turkey has everything: fake conflict antiquities trafficking, drug trafficking and conflict financing

While I was collecting evidence of the markets for (fake) conflict antiquities that are trafficked from and through Turkey, journalist Cristina Maza reviewed the allegations by Turkey that former CIA agent Graham Fuller was involved in the 2016 coup attempt and observed that ‘this story has everything’. I noted that every story about Turkey has everything. Here, I try to trace historical connections between trafficking of fake conflict antiquities, trafficking of other illicit commodities and financing of politically-motivated armed groups.

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the corrupt trade in World Trade Center ruins (and access to them)

Supporters of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, erstwhile colleagues of the former Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, gave ‘pieces of steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center’, ‘intimate tour[s] of the National September 11 Memorial, or the new World Trade Center construction site’, and other gifts to New Jersey mayors whose endorsements were key to Christie’s (2013) re-election campaign.

[I was going to write something on the corrupt trade in the material remains (and access to the material remains) of violent destruction (negative heritage), but I’m trying to do too many other things at the moment.]


the antiquities trade in Nigeria: looting in the midst of economic, environmental, political and professional crisis

African nations’ cultural objects have been harvested by foreign powers; attacked by religious movements and political factions; and, sometimes under duress, reduced to commodities and sacrificed for subsistence or survival. Still now, Nigerian ‘archaeological sites’ are ‘daily looted’; as Neil Brodie observed, nearly half of the objects on the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) list of African ‘cultural goods most affected by looting and theft‘ are Nigerian artefacts.

In this post, which was published in Vanguard (Nigeria) on the 1st of November 2012, I outline the nature of the illicit trade in Nigerian antiquities and the struggle against that trade.

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German archaeologists looting Nigerian archaeological sites, or rescuing them?

Recently, there have been reports that German archaeologists loot Nigerian artefacts; and that German corporations help.(1) They repeat five claims: first, that German archaeologists run the looting in Nigeria; second, that German corporations fund the looting; third, that corrupt state officials participate in the plunder of the country; fourth, that half of the artefacts in Nigerian museums are fakes; and fifth, that the Nigerian cultural heritage profession is unable to protect the country’s cultural resources.

Here, I will summarise all five claims, but I want to concentrate on the first, most explosive one, that German archaeologists bribe local communities for access to archaeological sites, then loot them. (Hat tip, @looted_heritage and its crowdmap; and @arttheft.)  It appears to be partly a misunderstanding, partly a misrepresentation.

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