Special Issue "Art and Antiquities Crime"

A special issue of Heritage (ISSN 2571-9408). This special issue belongs to the section "Artistic Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020) | Viewed by 12522

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Damien Huffer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: osteoarchaeology; archaeological science; art crime; antiquities trade; digital humanities; machine learning/computer vision; museology; ethics; social media studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Heritage focused on art and antiquities crime is centered around the research presented within the first workshop of a three-part series entitled “Changing Hands, Changing Meanings: Researching Cultural Heritage Trafficking in the Nordic Region”, funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences.  The workshop, entitled “Investigating and Policing Antiquities Trafficking and Forgery in a Digital Age”, was held at Stockholm University from the 25–26 April 2019. While some contributions to this Special Issue will come from presentations at the workshop itself, others will come from researchers actively engaged in related research.

The global licit and illicit trade in antiquities of all types, including prehistoric and historic archaeological artifacts, texts, human remains, rare books, and so on, continues to grow and shift in today’s increasingly digital world. The existence of these ever-evolving markets therefore continues to threaten humanity’s shared heritage and what can be known about the past through archaeological and epigraphic research. Furthermore, the creation of forgeries of numerous categories of artefact and text continue to elude detection and trick scholars, as techniques become ever more sophisticated and forgers can more readily access academic research and use it to their advantage. Once thought to be the key to suppressing or disrupting antiquities markets, it no longer appears that this is the case. In addition, the supply and demand for antiquities have moved beyond eBay and high-end auction houses, with markets today flourishing on other poorly policed e-commerce platforms and, even more problematic, social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, as well as the possibility of antiquities trafficking on the “Dark Web”—an especially difficult platform to monitor. Many such platforms have “terms of service” that allegedly bar users from participating in illicit activities, but these are poorly enforced. The global legal landscape is also uneven, and the digital realm has proven to be very challenging to legislate.

In relation to the above, this Special Issue seeks contributions that include the following:

  • Research that details the challenges faced in policing antiquities trafficking and forgery across e-commerce platforms and social media, from either an academic or practitioner perspective.
  • Research that details best practice for antiquities trafficking and forgery investigation and prevention, especially when dealing with digital data. The research presented can be quantitative (presenting new robust analyses of large datasets) or qualitative (contextualized investigation of case studies).
  • Research detailing the categories of data that Nordic and international law enforcement prioritizes when investigating cases, as well as research detailing and explaining what academic and scientific research can reliably provide to law enforcement.

Dr. Damien Huffer
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Heritage is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Towards a Digital Sensorial Archaeology as an Experiment in Distant Viewing of the Trade in Human Remains on Instagram
Heritage 2020, 3(2), 208-227; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage3020013 - 13 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2393
Abstract
It is possible to purchase human remains via Instagram. We present an experiment using computer vision and automated annotation of over ten thousand photographs from Instagram, connected with the buying and selling of human remains, in order to develop a distant view of [...] Read more.
It is possible to purchase human remains via Instagram. We present an experiment using computer vision and automated annotation of over ten thousand photographs from Instagram, connected with the buying and selling of human remains, in order to develop a distant view of the sensory affect of these photos: What macroscopic patterns exist, and how do these relate to the self-presentation of these individual vendors? Using Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing and machine learning services, we annotate and then visualize the co-occurrence of tags as a series of networks, giving us that macroscopic view. Vendors are clearly trying to mimic ‘museum’-like experiences, with differing degrees of effectiveness. This approach may therefore be useful for even larger-scale investigations of this trade beyond this single social media platform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Art and Antiquities Crime)
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Article
Exploring the “Cozy Cabal of Academics, Dealers and Collectors” through the Schøyen Collection
Heritage 2020, 3(1), 68-97; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage3010005 - 09 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 7566
Abstract
In the wake of the trade in ancient materials, several ethical and political issues arise that merit concern: the decimation of the cultural heritage of war-torn countries, proliferation of corruption, ideological connotations of orientalism, financial support of terrorism, and participation in networks involved [...] Read more.
In the wake of the trade in ancient materials, several ethical and political issues arise that merit concern: the decimation of the cultural heritage of war-torn countries, proliferation of corruption, ideological connotations of orientalism, financial support of terrorism, and participation in networks involved in money laundering, weapon sales, human trafficking and drugs. Moreover, trafficking and trading also have a harmful effect on the fabric of academia itself. This study uses open sources to track the history of the private Schøyen Collection, and the researchers and public institutions that have worked with and supported the collector. Focussing on the public debates that evolved around the Buddhist manuscripts and other looted or illicitly obtained material from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, this article unravels strategies to whitewash Schøyen’s and his research groups’ activities. Numerous elements are familiar from the field of antiquities trafficking research and as such adds to the growing body of knowledge about illicit trade and collecting. A noteworthy element in the Schøyen case is Martin Schøyen and his partners’ appeal to digital dissemination to divorce collections from their problematic provenance and history and thus circumvent contemporary ethical standards. Like paper publications, digital presentations contribute to the marketing and price formation of illicit objects. The Norwegian state’s potential purchase of the entire Schøyen collection was promoted with the aid of digital dissemination of the collection hosted by public institutions. In the wake of the Schøyen case, it is evident that in spite of formal regulations to thwart antiquities trafficking, the continuation of the trade rests on the attitudes and practice of scholars and institutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Art and Antiquities Crime)
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Article
“Still covered in sand.looked very old.”—Legal Obligations in the Internet Market for Antiquities
Heritage 2019, 2(3), 2311-2326; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2030142 - 06 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2177
Abstract
The global internet antiquities market exists in a complex cultural heritage framework, comprised of international law and domestic legislation. In this paper, the questions I seek to answer are the following: how do internet antiquities dealers engage with their legal obligations, and how [...] Read more.
The global internet antiquities market exists in a complex cultural heritage framework, comprised of international law and domestic legislation. In this paper, the questions I seek to answer are the following: how do internet antiquities dealers engage with their legal obligations, and how is this engagement translated to the ethics of their businesses? This paper presents a comparative examination of 45 antiquities dealers split across three categories—internet dealers, eBay dealers and social media dealers—revealing three key insights about the internet antiquities market: firstly, that the level of legal literacy in the market is depicted as being quite poor; secondly, that the performance of legal awareness does not always correspond with ethical dealer practices; and finally, some dealers utilise a suite of justifications for their behaviours, practices and values (known as neutralisation techniques) to undermine their legal obligations. Such results confirm existing claims of the failure of self-regulation in the internet antiquities market and reveal a demand for educational campaigns targeted at raising consumer awareness by challenging misleading market narratives and highlighting the ethical and legal issues involved with the trade of cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Art and Antiquities Crime)
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