Careers fighting illegal antiquities trading- could you make a difference?….

As an archaeologist, you probably care deeply about researching and protecting the past- whether that’s through commercial archaeology– helping ensure building regulations are met; community archaeology – helping connect the public to the past and raising the profile and importance of heritage; or perhaps you’re interested in heritage protection in a more literal sense- working to either prevent, reclaim or prosecute those who profit from looting, stealing, forging or trading antiquities.

Other than becoming a vigilante, there are a number of career areas you could work in:

Restitution / Fraud investigation: private companies, government bodies, local and national law enforcement organisations help advise on crime prevention, investigate art crime and research restitution issues. Some examples:

  • The Commission for Looted Art in Europe is an international, expert and non-profit representative body which researches, identifies and recovers looted property on behalf of families, communities, institutions and governments worldwide.
  • The Art Loss register is the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectables. Its range of services includes item registration, search and recovery services to collectors, the art trade, insurers and worldwide law enforcement agencies. 

Law enforcement / Security: Working at a local, national or international level. 

Policy making: organisations that implement and influence government policy.

  • UNESCO – is known as the “intellectual” agency of the United Nations and has responsibility for protecting creative and cultural heritage. They offer (unpaid) internships.
  • ICOM– International Council of Museums, create policies and tools to support museums to prevent trading in illegal antiquities: For example see The Red List database.

Research related:

  • ARCA – The Association for Research into Crimes against Art is a research and outreach organisation which works to promote the study and research of art crime and cultural heritage protection. They also deliver a Post Graduate certificate (based in Italy) and offer internships.
  • Arcadia – cultural heritage and environmental protection research and funding body. They work with different universities and organisations. Offer paid internships.
  • Academia – some universities investigate and report on these kind of issues. For example, Oxford and Leicester Universities are delivering a 2 year research project into Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa.

If you can’t beat them, join them: 

You could help ensure collectors, buyers and sellers work responsibly by working for them:

Art Insurance, Auction Houses – there are specialist companies who work specifically with private collectors, museums, galleries, local authorities or commercial companies. Some examples:

Getting work experience and finding out more:

  • We’re hosting our annual Law Fair on Wednesday 12/10/16 from 12-3pm in the Exhibition Centre where you can meet loads of employers keen to talk to Arts & Humanities students considering legal careers. There will also be a lot of law firms on campus throughout the Autumn term, so check out our full events programme.
  • Many of the above organisations offer formal internships or you could try making a speculative application for work experience (we can help you with this).

Don’t miss!

University of York Graduate Recruitment and Internships Law Fair takes place on Wednesday 12 October, 12 noon – 3.00pm in the Physics Exhibition Centre. See the Law Fair web page for more details of attending organiations.

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