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Antiquities, drugs, guns, diamonds, wildlife: toward a theory of transnational criminal markets in illicit goods

Author(s): Simon Mackenzie

Year: 2015

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The illicit trade in looted cultural property has been observed to be an example of a ‘transnational criminal market’. Other examples of transnational criminal markets are given in the non-exhaustive list in the title. These markets function in respect of a variety of goods – some are ‘collectibles’ markets (eg. antiquities; wildlife), some trade ‘consumables’ (eg. drugs; diamonds; counterfeit/pirated goods), while others move non-consumer goods that are not collectibles (eg. guns; radiological material; human traffic). Trafficking therefore supplies various types of demand. Each transnational criminal market is governed by a different regulatory strategy, and we can compare and contrast the philosophies and practices involved in the types of control used to try to reduce the various cross-border flows of criminal goods. With a view to developing more effective regulation to prevent trafficking in cultural objects looted from archaeological sites, this paper will build on these preliminary observations about different types of transnational criminal markets and regulatory strategies. The aim is to engage in an analysis of the similarities and differences in criminal practices and official control programmes in order to be clear about the range of policy futures applicable to the illicit trade in cultural objects.

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Antiquities, drugs, guns, diamonds, wildlife: toward a theory of transnational criminal markets in illicit goods. Simon Mackenzie. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395974)


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America