Saturday 23 August 2014

The Illicit Traffic in Archaeological and Ethnographic Human Remains

One of the most obviously disreputable part of the no-questions-asked antiquities and 'tribal art' industries is discussed in a recent paper:

Damien Huffer, Duncan Chappell 2014, 'The mainly nameless and faceless dead: an exploratory study of the illicit traffic in archaeological and ethnographic human remains', Crime, Law and Social Change, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 131-153.

This paper represents an exploratory study of what is known about the current global trade in human remains, and in particular, specimens from archaeological or ethnographic contexts, regardless of which source countries they derive from and where they are destined. The paper is in four parts. In Part 1, we explain how the analysis of human remains forms an important component of archaeological research, and why looting activity at burial sites prejudice this research. In Part 2 we review the existing and relevant archaeological, ethnographic and criminological literature on the subject while in Part 3 we describe our own research into the online trade in human remains, both licit and illicit. To assess the current global prevalence and distribution of public and private dealers in human remains, keyword searches on common search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), and online sites like eBay and Amazon were conducted. In Part 4 we draw some conclusions about our research and point in particular to various policy and law reform issues which require further consideration and study.
The ‘Shesepamuntayesher’ case
Part 1: The destruction of context
Part 2: A little-known phenomenon
Part 3: Quantifying today’s market- an exploratory online study
Who is trafficking and what is being trafficked?
Who is buying?
Regional case studies
Part 4: Conclusion 
See also:
Chappell, D., and Huffer, D. (2013) ‘Quantifying and Describing the South and South East Asian Illicit Antiquities Trade: Australia as an Overlooked Destination?’, CEPS Briefing 24

Damien Huffer, 'Bones of contention: The global trade in archaeological and ethnographic human remains' SAFE blog August 16, 2014.

1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

Many thanks, Paul. I'm sure it shocks you as much as me that this aspect of the trade exists and thrives.

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