Wednesday, 4 August 2021

New Classes of Data: Sam Hardy on Artefact Hunting in Former Yugoslavia

I think when you look at the efforts of some of the archaeological supporters of artefact hunting (such as the group I label the Helsinki Gang) and compare what they produce with the sort of questions Sam Hardy is asking of the data about Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record, a huge gulf opens up between their wishy-washy and Sam's attempt to address real problems. That is what I feel on reading through Sam Hardy's latest:

Research Article
Hardy, S.A., 2021. It Is Not against the Law, if No-One Can See You: Online Social Organisation of Artefact-Hunting in Former Yugoslavia. Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, 4(1), pp.169–187. DOI: 

It Is Not against the Law, if No-One Can See You: Online Social Organisation of Artefact-Hunting in Former Yugoslavia
This study uses open-source intelligence to analyse the illicit excavation and illicit trafficking of archaeological goods (and forgeries) across the Balkan-Eastern Mediterranean region(s) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. It draws on texts and images that have been published by hundreds of artefact-hunters across tens of online communities and other online platforms. These include online forums; social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram; social media, such as Pinterest and YouTube; generic trading platforms, such as eBay, Etsy and; and specialist trading platforms, such as VCoins.

It shows how artefact-hunters target sites, features and objects; reveal the objects that are collectible and/or marketable; acquire equipment; form patron-client relationships, peer-to-peer partnerships and other cooperative groups; engage in transnational activity; crowdsource techniques for smuggling; crowdsource ways to avoid being caught or punished; and respond to policing. Often, they give identifying details or leave an electronic paper trail that enables their identification. Such information also reveals the destructiveness of processes of extraction and consumption; the economics of the low-end market in cultural goods from poor countries; the gender dimension in cultural property crime and cyber-enabled crime; and the interaction between political allegiance and criminal activity. Thereby, this study shows how netnography and social network analysis can support intelligence-led policing.

Keywords: antiquities looting, illicit trafficking of cultural goods, online trafficking, social network analysis, South-Eastern Europe

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