Antiquities as Global Contraband: What Do We Know, and What Can We Do?

Wednesday, May 3 - Thursday, May 4

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Systematic looting at archaeological sites in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, along with increased evidence of a relationship between antiquities trafficking and political instability, have made antiquities a key international policy issue. This two-day conference brings together scholars, practitioners, and policy analysts to discuss what we know about this phenomenon and what can be done to stop it. Speakers will present a range of conceptual and methodological positions, from market-based solutions and cutting-edge satellite analysis of looting patterns to first-hand qualitative study of how civilians are trying to protect cultural heritage and prevent artifacts from becoming contraband in the first place. The conference is the capstone event for the "Past for Sale" project, a three-year, interdisciplinary study of the global trade in looted antiquities, sponsored by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. The conference is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, May 3

Coffee and Welcome
8:45 - 9:00 am

Panel 1: Lessons from Afghanistan 
9:00 - 10:45 am
Kathryn Franklin (Oriental Institute CAMEL Lab, University of Chicago): “Remote Assessments of the Cultural Heritage Situation in Afghanistan: Results from the Afghan Heritage Mapping Project”
Gil Stein (Oriental Institute, University of Chicago): “Assessing the Losses:  Integrating Data Sources to Develop the First Quantified List of Artifacts Looted from the National Museum of Afghanistan”
Brent Huffman (Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism): "Mes Aynak: Past, Present, and Future of an Ancient Buddhist City in Afghanistan"
Discussant: Morag Kersel (DePaul University)

Panel 2: Lessons from Iraq and Syria
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Amr Al-Azm (Shawnee State University): “Protecting Cultural Heritage the Low Tech Way: The Role of Non-state Actors in Preserving Syria’s Cultural Heritage”
Jesse Casana (Dartmouth College): “Satellite Imagery-based Monitoring of Looting and Archaeological Site Damage in the Syrian Civil War”
Michael Danti (US Department of State ASOR-CHI): “Ground-based Monitoring of Looting and Site Damage in Syria and Northern Iraq”
Patty Gerstenblith (DePaul University College of Law): “Lessons Learned and Not Learned: The Legal and Heritage Perspectives”
Discussant: Dr. Fiona Greenland (Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society)

Keynote Address 
2:00 - 3:30 pm
Richard Kurin (Smithsonian Institution): “Selling and Destroying Cultural Heritage: Governments’ Proaction, Reaction and Inaction”
Respondent: James Robinson (Faculty Director of the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago)

Panel 3: The Past Sold Gallery Exhibition: Two Stories of Pricing Antiquities
4:00 - 5:00 pm
Morag Kersel (DePaul University)
Fiona Greenland (Neubauer Collegium)

Reception and Gallery Visit
5:00 - 6:00 pm

Thursday, May 4

Coffee and Welcome
9:00 - 9:15 am

Panel 4: The Illegal Movement of People and Things
9:15 - 11 am
James Marrone (Department of Economics, University of Chicago): "Modeling Market Values from Looted Syrian Artifacts: Preliminary Findings from the Mantis Project"
Richard Udell (Environmental Crimes Section, US Department of Justice): “Wildlife Trafficking and U.S. Auction Houses”
Hans-Jakob Schindler (Coordinator, ISIL, Al-Qaida and Taliban Monitoring Team, United Nations Security Council): “United Nations Security Council Monitoring Team Work Against Terror Financing ISIL (Da'esh) Smuggling of Antiquities”
Discussant: Mark Bradley (Pozen Center for Human Rights, University of Chicago)

Panel 5: Financing Site Protection and Market Policing: Some Policy Options
11:15 am - 1:00 pm
Larry Rothfield (Department of English, University of Chicago): “Who Should Pay to Protect the Archaeological Past? A Pigovian Approach”
Michael Kremer (Department of Economics, Harvard University): “Protecting Antiquities: A Role for Long-Term Leases?”
Larry Coben (Founder and Executive Director, Sustainable Preservation Initiative): “Economically Sustainable Preservation: What Really Works”
Discussant: Daniel Hemel (University of Chicago Law School)

Concluding Remarks

Download the abstracts >


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