I study archaeological looting and collecting behaviors of the illicit antiquities trade. Artifact collecting eradicates archaeological information and absconds cultural heritage from source communities. Although institutions and museums are increasingly amending their collecting practices, private collectors still fuel the majority of the destructive market. Further, since private collections are individualistic and autobiographically motivated, the codes of ethics and public policies designed to stem the trade have a limited reach. My research identifies patterns of autobiographical representations in private collections and analyzes the effectiveness of public policies on collecting practices.
Understanding individualistic motivations for consuming archaeological heritage and organizing it into private contexts is a multi-discipline endeavor. My PhD in Archaeology examined motivations for artifact looting in the United States Southwest. I then spent several years working as a research analyst providing consumer assessments and market reports to a variety of companies. Additionally, I draw from my academic background in cross-cultural literature, behavioral ecology, and heritage management. My multi-discipline approach includes general market research, historical research, consumption and behavioral economics, consumer psychology, heritage and memory studies, souvenir and tourism studies, as well as archaeological report assessments, direct interviews, and trend analyses. Currently, I am working on a comprehensive critical history of collecting as well as several smaller papers that connect illicit antiquities research to consumerism studies.
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