Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Glasgow Illicit Antiquities Research: Dealers' Lobbyists Sense Trouble Ahead

Thought so. The dealers' lobbyists are none too happy with the latest "Chasing Aphrodite" blog post. At long last somebody's come up with a million quid to check out and publish the FACTS about the antiquities trade, and the summary and interview with Professor Simon Mackenzie indicates that they mean business ('The Antiquities Trade as Organized Crime: Glasgow Team Digs Deep into the Market For Ancient Art', ChAph June 4th 2012). So there'll soon be no whinging and plaintive whining à la Dealer Dave that "there is no proof that no-questions-buying of antiquities leads to looting and smuggling" - because if all goes well, we'll have something substantial to refute that (or for them to refute). There'll be no "almost everything on the market is legit, it's just lost its label" nonsense from the carefree dealers, because we'll probably get some studies to show what a self-serving nonsense that is too (as if we did not know anyway). This series of studies is really going to cramp the style of the lobbyists and collectors' advocates with cold hard facts.

Lobbobloggie of course has a conspiracy theory, they are not real academics doing real research at all but:
Chasing Aphrodite has interviewed Simon Mackenzie, an academic associated with the archaeological lobby, about his EU funded “research” into “organized crime” and the antiquities trade. [...] I’ve been dubious that academics with an axe to grind against collectors could really be expected to produce anything other than advocacy dressed up as "research" to help justify more clamp downs on collectors, museums and dealers, and greater funding for cultural bureaucracies and law enforcement.
(Peter-my-firm-did-not-get-a-million-for-my-lobbying-Tompa, 'Research or Advocacy on "Organized Crime" and the Antiquities Trade?' 5th June 2012). I'd like to point out that the study is clearly aimed at the ILLICIT trade, the project summary quite clearly states that it is about: "allowing the legitimate exchange of cultural objects while suppressing the illicit market” .

Frankly Tompa's criticism, superficial as it is, just sounds like sour grapes from a bloke who is coming to realise that soon the game will be up, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.  So far all he's been able to do is apply the tired old tactic of questioning the credentials of anyone who dares hold an opinion on issues connected with collecting which do not favour the current damaging status quo (by the way, before anyone would like to label Prof Makenzie as this-or-that, I hope they first checked out his quite extensive and varied bibliography). 

Not that I do not have some quite serious misgivings about what I see in the Chasing Aphrodite summary (I still have not found comparable details of the study's aims on the  Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research's website, am I looking in the wrong place?), but I'll save that for later.


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