Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Trafficking Culture" Online

Trafficking Culture is a research project based at the University of Glasgow, currently funded by the European Research Council from 2012-16, which aims to produce an evidence-based picture of the contemporary global trade in looted cultural objects.

Their new website  includes links to project team members, publications, and an encyclopedia of terminology, methodology, theory and a variety of case studies from around the world. They promise it will be regularly updated. For those who prefer shorter soundbite style 'news' they can also be followed on Twitter @CultureTraffic and on Facebook at

There are short bios of the team members here

An impressive five-page bibliography of texts written by team members to date. There are also details of current projects.

Most of the project seems to be connected with current ongoing looting, rather than repatriation issues, but there is an  online encyclopaedia being created of "case studies, law, theory and methods and terminology" which seems to include pre-1970 issues as well. This has the potential to be very useful when it is more advanced (though may be difficult to navigate without a proper index).

It is worth noting that as of yet there is no definition of either the word "trafficking" or "culture", which seems a pretty fundamental starting point here. What actually is meant by "culture" in this context? Does it include dinosaurs? Still, early days yet, I am sure all will become clearer as the project develops.

Since there are so many sides to these issues and so many viewpoints, would the authors not consider it worthwhile to allow comments to these definitions?

Vignette: the tired old 1970 Convention needs new teeth. 

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