Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Heritage in the EU and the MENA Region
It is a well-known fact that organised crime has developed into an international network including very diverse actors – ranging from the simple ‘grave diggers’ to powerful and wealthy white-collar professionals – that adopt illegal practices like money laundering, fraud and forgery. This criminal system, ultimately, damages and disintegrates our cultural identity and, in some cases, fosters political corruption, terrorism or civil unrest through the transnational and illicit trafficking of cultural property. The forms of ‘ownership’ of Cultural Heritage are often indistinct, and – depending on the national legislation of reference – the proprietorship and trade of historical and artistic assets of value may be legitimate or not. Casual collectors and criminals have always taken advantage from these ambiguities and managed to place on the market items obtained by destruction and looting of museums, monuments and archaeological areas. Thus, over the years, even the most renowned museum institutions might have - more or less consciously – displayed, hosted or lent cultural objects of illicit origin. Ransacking, thefts, clandestine exports and disputable transactions are crimes that primarily affect countries that are rich in artistic and archaeological assets, but such activities do not involve just some countries. This is an international border-crossing phenomenon that starts in given countries and expands to many others. Some are briefly passed through while a handful of powerful and rich ones are the actual destination marketplaces. Drawing from the experience of the conference Stolen Heritage (Venice, December 2019), held in the framework of the H2020 NETCHER (NETwork and digital platform for Cultural Heritage Enhancing and Rebuilding) project, this edited volume focuses on illicit trafficking in cultural property addressing the issue from a multidisciplinary perspective and featuring papers authored by international experts and professionals actively involved in Cultural Heritage protection. The articles included expand on such diverse topics as the European legislation regulating import, export, trade and restitution of cultural objects; ‘conflict antiquities’ and cultural heritage at risk in the Near and Middle East; looting activities and illicit excavations in Italy; the use of technologies to counter looting practices and the publication of unprovenanced items. This collection is meant as a valuable resource to disseminate new results of the research as well as to facilitate a better understanding of the international legislation related to the protection of Cultural Heritage.
Language: enISBN (print): 978-88-6969-518-6 ISBN (ebook): 978-88-6969-517-9