Selling Heritage: Southeast Asian Cultural Property Trafficking in the Time of COVID-19

Rhayan Gatbonton Melendres1, Damien Huffer2

1University of the Philippines,

2School of Social Science, University of Queensland

Since the last IPPA Congress in 2018, the threats to humanity’s cultural heritage, globally and within Southeast Asia itself, has unfortunately continued to grow, likely due at least in part to the global societal disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As is very often the case, illicit trafficking research (especially within online spaces) strives to stay abreast of the big picture as global trafficking patterns shift and evolve with increasing public awareness and policy and legislative changes. What is often lacking, however, is local-level and culturally relevant research that can instil agency into network analyses. This session’s primary intent is to continue to provide a venue for Southeast Asian scholars conducting this work to reach wider regional, global and interdisciplinary audiences. We welcome presentations focused on any category of Southeast Asian cultural heritage trafficking, including questions of forgeries in the market and on-the-ground looting prevention efforts. We especially welcome work addressing: 1. successes and challenges in the repatriation of seized cultural property; 2. changes to national or regional legislation and any noticeable effects of these changes to date; 3. how trafficking networks to, from or within Southeast Asia have changed as the social media and e-commerce landscape has changed since 2018, and especially; 4. how the COVID-19 pandemic has or has not affected markets online or on-the-ground. We welcome presentations of pilot-level or established research, and contributions from academics, museum or government heritage department staff, law enforcement, NGO staff and those involved in public outreach – increased communication between all stakeholders remains crucial to this fight.

Trafficking Southeast Asia's Dead Online: Exploring the Overlap of Digital Networks and (Primarily) Western Desire

Damien Huffer, Shawn Graham

Illicit Trade of Cultural Materials in Cambodia in the Time of COVID-19: An Update

Kathleen Felise Constance Tantuico