Wednesday 28 May 2014

Sam Hardy's "Conflict Antiquities: the book"

This promises to be a real cracker when published: Sam Hardy, Conflict Antiquities: the book
Across borders, police and cultural heritage professionals struggle against the plunder of vulnerable societies’ pasts, while art dealers advertise their antiquities’ authenticity by guaranteeing their illicit origins, and everybody from the elite to the humble turns a blind eye to lay their hands on their own little piece of history. Transnational criminal networks weave amongst them, profiting from international collectors’ greed and local communities’ poverty. And increasingly, in conflicts, the armed groups – whose battles have driven the civilian communities into the desperate position where they plunder their own past – capitalise on the trade to fund their fighting.[...] In the contemporary market, where dealers dispose of genuine antiquities’ documentation to disguise their origins, and forgers produce scientifically-indistinguishable fakes, the best guarantee for a buyer is an artisanal dealer and a pliable authenticator. Drawing on my own visits to boutique galleries – which promised me hand-smuggled antiquities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, Cambodia and elsewhere – and police forces’, cultural heritage workers’ and journalists’ investigations, Conflict Antiquities will showcase some of the highs and lows of working against trafficking.

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