Donna Yates


Donna Yates is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology at Maastricht University.

Previously she was a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow.

Donna has recently been awarded a €1.5 million European Research Council starting grant to study how objects influence criminal networks, with a particular focus on objects such as antiquities, fossils, and rare and collectible wildlife. She’s interested in what draws people to these “criminogenic collectibles”, how they interact with them, and how these objects may inspire crimes.

Donna has held a number of grants and awards related to researching the global trade in illicit antiquities. From 2012–2015 Donna held Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship and a Core Fulbright Award to study the trafficking of Latin American antiquities. This project focused on the relationship between communities, governments, the law, and the operation of transnational criminal markets and to help develop regulatory mechanisms for controlling the illicit antiquities trade in that region, based on fieldwork in Bolivia, Belize, and Mexico. Her other antiquities trafficking field research includes work in Guatemala, Nepal, and Greece.

She has also conducted research in this area for the European Commission and has provided expert consultation, training, and advice to multiple governments and agencies, and relevant intergovernmental organisations such as UNESCO and UNODC.

Donna at the Maya site of Lamanai, Belize

She completed her PhD in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge looking at the legal, social, and political construction of archaeology and heritage in the rapidly changing social and political climate of modern Bolivia. Her first degree was in Archaeology at Boston University with a focus on Mesoamerica. She went on to complete an MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums at Cambridge. Her MPhil thesis documented the market for illicit South American antiquities at US-based auctions.