Posts tagged ‘scholarly ethics’


Sotheby’s blood antiquities from Cambodia

In Cambodia (as elsewhere), looting and smuggling are associated with poverty and corruption. Academic collusion is key to the ostensibly legal antiquities market. (Dr. Emma Bunker, who confirmed that Sotheby’s statue was ‘definitely stolen’, nonetheless advised them to sell the statue privately, or to sell the statue publicly without mentioning the scene of the crime, but either way to ignore legal advice.) And it is an illicit trade steeped in blood.

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Should I have embargoed my thesis until I got a job?

As the data is becoming less interesting (wow, open-access research is accessed more often and more widely than limited-access research), and as the anniversary is becoming less significant (“n years ago, I completed a contract, woo…”) and more negative (“It’s been how long…? And I’ve made how much progress…?”), this is probably the last time I’ll put together the statistics for the readership of my thesis (on archaeological ethics in conflict zones)… But it has prompted an ugly, nagging thought.

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Don’t mention the feet! I mentioned them once, but I think I got away with it. Cambodia looting and academic collusion.

Chasing Aphrodite has a great piece on a fascinating (i.e. ugly) case, in which Sotheby’s auction house’s internal e-mails reveal that it knew it was handling and trying to sell a ‘definitely stolen’ statue. I just want to tease out some of the lowlights of academic collusion in this particular case of illicit antiquities trafficking and trading.

Remarkably, Dr. Emma Bunker, the scholar who affirmed that the statue was ‘definitely stolen’, variously advised Sotheby’s: not to sell the statue publicly; to sell the statue publicly, but not to acknowledge the existence of a crime scene; and to ignore legal advice.

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