Showing posts with label american society of criminology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label american society of criminology. Show all posts

December 2, 2010

Summary of Erik Nemeth's Presentation at the 2010 ASC Conference

ARCA Trustee Erik Nemeth (www.culturalsecurity.org and www.artworldintel.com) has forwarded on a summary of his thoughtful panel presentation at the American Society of Criminology annual meeting. The presentation, "Cultural Intelligence: data sources on the motivation and means for trafficking" crystallizes I think the systemic nature of the illicit trade in antiquities, and the need for further rigorous examination of the trade across the relevant disciplines. His summary follows:

The annual multibillion-dollar illicit market in movable cultural property motivates looting in developing nations. As demonstrated from Latin America in the midst of the Cold War era to South-central Asia in the post-Cold War period, organized crime may take advantage of limited security in “source nations” by recruiting locals to loot. In African nations, the corruption extends into the public sector with bribes to customs officers and collusion with staff of cultural ministries. On a transnational level, the risk that revenues from trafficking may fund insurgencies and terrorist groups has alerted law enforcement agencies to the implications for international security. The degree of the security threat posed by looting ultimately depends on the market value of the artworks and the intersections with trafficking in weapons and narcotics. Quantitative analysis of the market value and mapping the trafficking networks illustrate the potential of specialized “art intelligence” to enable countermeasures to mitigate, and optimally forestall, threats to cultural identity.

The traditionally clandestine nature of the art market poses challenges to assessing looting and trafficking in developing nations. In the absence of direct information on transactions in ource nations,sales at auction provide a sense of the market value and trade volume of antiquities and primitive art. Auction houses openly publish results of auctions and enable access to sales archives through web sites. On-line access to sales archives creates a substantive pool of data on hammer prices from auctions around the world. Sales archives also contain detailed descriptions of the artworks. The description that accompanies an auction lot can identify the geographic origin of the artwork. Data mining of sales archives for hammer price and origin enables analysis of market value by source nation. The analysis assesses relative market value and, thereby, contributes to an assessment of relative risks of looting across developing nations.

Any threat of looting has serious implications for the cultural identity of local communities, but the market value that motivates looting has implications for the severity and extent of the threat. Large demand in market nations and high market value increases the scale of looting and the range of parties with vested interest. A large market for artworks from a particular source nation increases the likelihood that organized crime will invest in developing trafficking networks and in recruiting locals to loot. As the involvement of organized crime increases, the opportunities for corruption within government also increase. An assessment of the relative risk of looting informs policy on the protection of cultural patrimony. With an understanding of the magnitudes of risk facing different source nations, market nations can strategically focus resources to engage actors in the art market and local governments.

November 23, 2010

ARCA Panel at the 2010 American Society of Criminology

File:MalteseFalcon1930.jpgLast Thursday ARCA sponsored an antiquities panel held at the American Society of Criminology meeting in San Francisco. It was a lively panel, and I always enjoy getting a chance to discuss these issues in person, to an interested audience. San Francisco was a great setting for this kind of thing, and though the conference hotel was located near the Tenderloin, in the old stomping grounds of Dashiell hammett, I managed to restrain myself and avoid making any pained "Maltese Falcon" references, though I'm unable to resist here. What follows are a few of my thoughts which I jotted down during the panel.

Kimberly Alderman began the panel by examining the connections between art crime and organized crime and the drug trade. The connection matters, as it may be one way to help highlight the problem of the theft and looting of sites, as organized crime and illegal drug sales will draw the attention of law enforcement more readily. Yasmeen Hussain followed, and discussed the role of antiquities issues in international relations. I was really struck that there may be more room in the debate for political scientists to weigh in on these issues in a more direct way, perhaps offering frameworks for useful dialogues which can "build capacity" as Yasmeen argued. Erik Nemeth followed and really opened my ideas to the idea of "cultural intelligence" and the need to assess the "tactical and strategic significance of antiquities and cultural heritage sites". I ended the panel by looking in some detail at the Four Corners antiquities investigation, and argued that the criminal offenses at the Federal level are inconsistently applied and do not really do a very good job of regulating and changing the underlying nature of the market.

One interesting idea which emerged from the questions after the panel was Simon Mackenzie's question about whether the UN definition of organized crime could or should be applied to certain parts of the antiquities trade like auction houses. The definition states that organized criminal groups are "a structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences. . .". Kim responded by noting that even if these groups are not actively and intentionally engaged in the crimes, they may be unwitting actors or play a part in an organized criminal network, referencing the work of Edgar Tijhuis.

Overall, it was a terrific weekend, another Cultural Property panel with Blythe Bowman Proulx, Matthew Pate, Duncan Chappell, and Simon Mackenzie was terrific as well. Thanks to all the panelists, and especially the volunteers who put together Thursday evening's reception at the Thirsty Bear.

November 3, 2009

ARCA Talks in the US this November

ARCA is pleased to announce the following events taking place in the US during the first two weeks of November.

Nov 5
11am
Marriot Hotel and Conference Center
Philadelphia, PA
ARCA trustees Erik Nemeth and Noah Charney present at the American Society of Criminology conference (open only to conference registrants)

Nov 7
4pm
Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, MD
Spotlight: Gary Vikan and Noah Charney
A conversation with the Walters Museum director and ARCA director Noah Charney

Nov 10
8am-4:30pm
Wexler Center for the Arts
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH
Library and Archive Security
Travis McDade and Noah Charney present a workshop on archive theft and security strategies, in collaboration with IFCPP (open to the public)

Nov 11
9am-4pm
Henry Lee School of Forensic Science
University of New Haven
New Haven, CT
Noah Charney gives an all-day workshop on how a knowledge of the history of art theft can be used to protect and recover art in the future

Nov 12
530pm
Yale Art Gallery
New Haven, CT
"The Most Stolen Painting in History"
Noah Charney speaks about his next non-fiction book, entitled Stealing the Mystic Lamb, a monograph on the art history and criminal history of Jan van Eyck's The Ghent Altarpiece, the most frequently stolen masterpiece of all time.
The talk will be followed by a book release party for ARCA's essay collection, ART & CRIME: EXPLORING THE DARK SIDE OF THE ART WORLD. The party will be held after the talk, across the street from the gallery at Atticus Bookstore Cafe. All are welcome.