John Welch

Grant Type

Conference Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Simon Fraser U.

Grant number

Gr. CONF-786

Approve Date

March 22, 2018

Project Title

Welch, Dr. John Robert, Simon Fraser U., Burnaby, Canada - To aid Cultural Heritage Crime And Forensic Sedimentology: Global Theoretical And Local Tactical Responses,' 2018, Fort Apache, AZ, in collaboration with Mr. Ramon Riley

Cultural heritage crime (CHC, see also ‘looting,’ ‘graverobbing’) refers to unauthorized alteration, damage, removal, or trafficking in materials possessing blends of communal, aesthetic, and scientific values. CHC is one tentacle of transnational criminality and colonial legacies linked to drug and weapon trafficking, cultural genocide, and terrorism. Assaults on heritage sites, collections, and graves undermine scholarly pursuits and local senses of place, identity, and security. CHC persists despite opposition from victimized communities and countermeasures by anthropologists and other heritage and law enforcement professionals.

Thus framed as a ‘glocal’ phenomenon (Proulx 2013), CHC demands global-scale theorizing in concert with targeted local study and action. The proposed workshop aims to integrate two previously partitioned and rapidly advancing domains of expertise: (1) theories of CHC perpetrators’ motivations and methods, (2) tactics for thwarting and prosecuting CHC. Forensic sedimentology–applications of biophysical science to trace sediments from implicated persons and objects back to crime scenes–provides a crucial synergistic link between these domains. Forensic sedimentology’s increasingly potent battery of analytic methods have yet to be brought to bear on CHC. The workshop would engage experts–in criminology, archaeological sedimentology, law enforcement, and heritage stewardship–in dialogues structured to apply emergent CHC theories and methods through innovative countermeasures.