The Global Traffic in Looted Cultural Objects

Yates, D. (2016), ‘The Global Traffic in Looted Cultural Objects’, in Rafter, N. and Carribine, E. (eds), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Crime, Media, and Popular Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press).


The looting, trafficking, and illicit sale of cultural objects is a form of transnational crime with significant social and legal dimensions, which call into question competing ideas of ownership and value, as well as how we define organized crime, white collar crime, and crimes of the powerful. The looting of cultural objects from archaeological and heritage sites is inherently destructive and is almost always illegal. However, through a complex smuggling chain which depends on lack of import/export regulation standardization in transit and opaque business practices at market, stolen cultural objects are able to be passed onto the international market in large quantities and at little risk to market actors.


illicit antiquities, looting, trafficking, white collar crime, organized crime, crimes of the powerful, cultural property, antiquities trade

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