1. Who is behind Stolen Gods?
Dr. Donna Yates of the University of Glasgow’s Trafficking Culture Project thanks to funding provided by the Leverhulme Trust.
Note that this site and anything posted on it in no way reflects the opinions and positions of the University of Glasgow or Trafficking Culture.
2. What is ‘sacred art’?
It really isn’t a defined thing. We are using this nebulous term to mean art, artefacts, and architecture (and, really, whatever else) that was created for or inspired by religious devotion. I hate to put it this way, but we all know it when we see it.
3. How is the theft and trafficking of sacred art different than other antiquities or art theft?
To put it simply:
1. The objects are ‘living’; they are part of the lived identity and culture of people who are breathing now.
2. The objects are mostly recordable: they are known objects that can be documented and, thus, recovered if they appear on the market.
3. The objects can be seen as being owned collectively by certain or even all adherents to a religion. Ownership of many of them is challenging.
These pieces are often taken from very poor people and moved into the possession of very rich people. From public to private. From used and loved to behind glass.
4. Are you accepting students?
The Trafficking Culture Project accepts postgraduate students. We offer PhDs in Criminology and Sociology. We also supervise Masters students in the University of Glasgow’s criminology department where we run a module called International trafficking in cultural objects: evidence, theory and policy. Prospective students, please send us an email telling us about yourself and your interests and I can give you the run down of what is up.
5. I am a reporter and I have some questions, can you help?
Maybe. Send an email and let us know what you are looking for.
6. Can you tell me if it is okay to buy a piece of sacred art? Can you authenticate a piece that I wish to buy or sell?
No. We don’t believe that the market is the right place for sacred art and we think the ethical and legal issues involved in buying and selling it are too dangerous to get tangled up in, even in the best of circumstances. If you have to ask this question, you should consider not buying.
We will only authenticate pieces for law enforcement and public entities that have lost sacred art and that within the limited capacity of our expertise. We will not authenticate otherwise.
7. Are you available for guest lectures/seminars on this topic? Training workshops?
Likely. Email us and let us know what you are thinking.
8. Are you religious?
Our stake in this is out of respect for devotion, understanding of the place religion has in culture/identity, and a love of the art it produces. Stolen Gods, as a whole, is not affiliated with any religion.