ARCA Panel at the 2010 American Society of Criminology 11/18 (UPDATE)

If you like beer and art crime next week’s American Society of Criminology Meeting in San Francisco will have you sorted.

First, ARCA will be sponsoring a panel titled “Antiquities Trafficking:  Complementary Countermeasures“. I’ll be the discussant for the panel, so I hope if you are in the area or attending the conference you will consider attending.

  • Cultural Intelligence: Data Sources on the Motivation and Means for Trafficking – Erik Nemeth (ARCA)
  • The Difficulty in Using Criminal Offences to Police the Antiquities Trade – Derek Fincham (Assistant Professor, South Texas College of Law/ARCA)
  • Cultural Property and International Relations: Implications in Dialogue – Yasmeen del Rosario Hussain (CUSP, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
  • Honor Amongst Thieves: The International Subculture of Art Crime – Kimberly L. Alderman (University of Wisconsin Law School)
More details on the panel are posted below after the jump. There also looks to be a very promising panel the next morning titled “Cultural Property Crime at 8 am titled “Cultural Property Crime” which may be of interest as well.

And second, that evening ARCA will also be sponsoring a reception at the nearby Thirsty Bear in San Francisco:
Thursday, November 18
6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m
Thirsty Bear
661 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

ARCA warmly invites those in the Bay area to join us for some free drinks, nibbles, and lively discussion about art crime and cultural heritage protection. This is an excellent opportunity to meet ARCA staff, volunteers, and experts and professionals in the field of art crime.  

UPDATE: I’ve updated Ms. Alderman’s abstract and affiliation below:

Panel title: Antiquities Trafficking – Complementary Countermeasures

Abstract: Reports that implicate the crime-terror nexus in trafficking in antiquities warrant closer inspection of the risks posed by the tactical exploitation of cultural patrimony. This panel explores the means of interdiction and diplomacy for countering transnational trafficking in antiquities. The historically clandestine nature of the antiquities trade and disconnect between due diligence and laws governing the transfer of cultural property have challenged countermeasures to looting and trafficking in antiquities. The challenges create opportunities for terrorist groups and insurgencies that operate in proximity to coveted archaeological sites to collaborate with transnational organized crime in exploiting the multibillion-dollar illicit trade in cultural patrimony. Legal cases for repatriations of Greek and Roman antiquities have publicized negotiations between market and source nations and, in turn, have brought greater transparency to the antiquities trade. Simultaneously, increasing awareness of the political clout of cultural patrimony has motivated collection of intelligence on the lucrative market, and insights into the value of cultural patrimony to security policy in source nations create opportunities to compel due diligence in market nations. Difficulties and risks in following through with prosecution suggest the need for complementary methods to counter trafficking.


          The Difficulty in Using Criminal Offences to Police the Antiquities Trade (Derek Fincham)

          Cultural Intelligence (Erik Nemeth)

          Cultural Property and International Relations (Yasmeen del Rosario Hussain)

          Honor Amongst Thieves (Kimberly L. Alderman)


The Difficulty in Using Criminal Offences to Police the Antiquities Trade

Derek Fincham, South Texas College of Law

Abstract: There has been a dramatic increase in recent years in the investigation and prosecution of individuals connected to the trade in stolen and illegally excavated antiquities, particularly in the United States.  The antiquities trade routinely fails to effectively distinguish illicit and illegally-obtained objects.  The current regulatory framework in nations of origin and in market nations puts far too much pressure–and expects too much–of investigators and prosecutors.  This produces a number of negative consequences, including the loss of archaeological context, the illegal acquisition of objects by museums, and the destruction of objects.  This paper will examine the U.S. criminal penalties for dealing in looted antiquities, focusing in particular on the vigorous use by Federal Prosecutors of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act both to police domestic looters, but also objects from abroad which enter the American antiquities trade.  The paper looks at the risks and benefits of applying this federal criminal law in these novel contexts and concludes that many of the reasons for the difficulty in prosecuting these crimes may also make the trade of interest to organized criminals such as terrorist networks. 


Cultural Intelligence: data sources on the motivation and means for trafficking

Erik Nemeth, ARCA, Santa Monica, California

Abstract: Over the past decade, the proximity of coveted antiquities to armed conflict with non-state actors has warranted consideration of the tactical value of cultural property.  “Cultural intelligence” enables assessments of the value of antiquities to insurgencies and terrorist groups. This paper identifies sources of cultural intelligence as fundamental assets in countering looting and facilitating interdiction of trafficking in antiquities. Looting of antiquities in developing nations and targeting of religious monuments in acts of political violence offer potential tactical advantage to insurgencies and terrorist groups. The clandestine nature of the licit, let alone the illicit, trade in art challenges the collection of data on the financial value of antiquities in the primary market. Open-source publications, such as auction archives, that report on the art market provide a means to assess the relative value of antiquities across source nations, and players in the illicit trade offer opportunities for the collection of data on the networks that transfer antiquities internationally.


Cultural Property and International Relations:  implications in dialogue

Yasmeen del Rosario Hussain, CUSP, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Abstract:  Dialogue necessarily, purposefully, and effectively influences foreign policy, capacity building, and security.  Governments and civil society organizations use dialogue to voice concerns and highlight issues, thereby affecting public perception.  Government and civil society dialogue on cultural property may counter looting, build socio-political bridges, and encourage national and cultural pride.  Examples of these facilities include the following government/civil society-driven exchanges on cultural property:  Greece – cultural spending requests for monument restoration and maintenance at a time of financial woe; Britain – debates over the effect of returning looted artifacts from Magdala and manuscripts from Ethiopia; Iraq – looted artifacts from the National Museum smuggled through Dubai; Kenya –  repatriation of stolen vigango statues from two United States Museums by the National Museums of Kenya; China – auction of Chinese animal head bronzes claimed by the Chinese to have been looted and refused to be repatriated by YSL/Berge as a statement against the situation in Tibet; United States – repatriation of looted Khmer artifacts and coordination with Cambodian Ministry of Culture; and Mali – solicitation of domestic support to counter looting and create solidarity against outsiders such as Al Qa’ida.  The exploration of these and other instances evidence the potential of dialogue on cultural property to impact international relations, increase cultural understanding, prevent antiquities trafficking, alter political maneuvers, and build capacity.


Honor Amongst Thieves: The International Subculture of Art Crime

Kimberly L. Alderman, University of Wisconsin Law School

Abstract: Government agencies, non-profits, scholars, and advocacy groups alike assert that organized crime has fueled the illicit antiquities trade since the early 1960s.  The illicit antiquities trade has been linked to money laundering, extortion, the drug and arms trades, terrorism and insurgency, and even slavery.  Meanwhile, in the past fifty years, both the international community and sovereign states have increased legislation pertaining to cultural property.  These developments in the antiquities trade beg the question of whether there is a relationship between the increased involvement of organized criminal groups in the trade and the increasingly repressive system regulating that trade.  This presentation considers the connection between organized crime and the illicit antiquities trade, examines known criminal subcultures and evidence of their involvement in the trade, and inquires about a possible connection between the increasing regulation of the antiquities trade and the apparent increase in organization of those willing to subvert the legal system regulating that trade.
Questions or Comments? Email me at

One thought on “ARCA Panel at the 2010 American Society of Criminology 11/18 (UPDATE)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.