Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Trafficking Culture website is live!

If you haven't already seen it, I am really excited to finally be able to share the website for the ERC-funded Trafficking Culture study at the University of Glasgow!

Even if I wasn't involved in this study (I'm in the People section and feeling like such a rock star), I would think this website is super beautiful and well-designed and incredibly exciting to explore. As a student, having so much access (for free!) to so much information that has been parsed and organized already is immensely exciting. This is the kind of thing that I wished I'd had when I first began studying these issues. The Encyclopedia (with one entry so far by yours truly and more on their way) is a goldmine of information on terms, looted sites, looted objects; the Publications page has a ton of free PDFs of articles and chapters written by the researchers and other related scholars (I've downloaded them all); and the Links section points you in the best possible directions for other sources and organizations to be aware of or get involved in. Bookmark it and explore! And if you're looking to do your PhD with a team this cool, you can shoot off a message and get that conversation started.

And don't forget to "Like" the Trafficking Culture Facebook and follow on Twitter.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What to read when you're too busy to eat: My preferred cultural heritage news sources

It seems that every time I go away to have some kind of vacation (and by “vacation” I mean scrambling around and doing a lot of paperwork, preparation, and packing for my impending move to Glasgow) there is a some kind of scandal that I should be covering but can’t. Over the last two years of writing here, I’ve always had grand aspirations about being able to update daily and be on top of every bit of news. But if I’m being honest with myself, that only happens for like two weeks during the summer when I have the time and the inclination. The rest of the academic year, this blog is just one of many things in life that sits on the sliding scale of priorities. Coming to grips with that as I move into unknown grad-school-schedule territory has required reconsidering how I want to approach the issues here and how often.

But until I’m able to hold myself to a more regular blogging schedule, I want to share the sources that I rely on to stay in touch with these issues when I’m not able to write about them. I’ve divided them up roughly by how many places on the internet you can find them so you, too, know where to turn when Facebook or Twitter is all you have time for.

Found just about everywhere:

Chasing Aphrodite
I’m not just a big fan of the award-winning book of the same name, but also of the blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages that journalist/author Jason Felch keeps active on a weekly basis. This is my top news resource in this area. All of Jason’s commentary, whether it’s a Facebook update or a blog post, has a really great mix of information and analysis, making for very informative as well as educational reading. It also helps that Jason doesn’t just share blog updates, but news articles from other sources as well, making it so handy to stay in touch when Facebook is the only social media I have time to browse.

Cultural Security
Cultural Security, a team effort by Erik Nemeth, Joshua Mix, and Yasmeen Hussain, is an interdisciplinary initiative that uses the social sciences, technology, and life sciences to explore cultural heritage issues. The team runs a websiteblog, Twitter, and Tumblr, all of which serves a slightly different purpose and is informative in different ways. I’m a big fan of the news articles they provide on their Tumblr, which makes it very easy to stay up to date when I’m scrolling through my own gif-dominated feed. I also turn to their blog quite often, which offers a weekly break-down of the issues.

Found some places:

Archaeological News
This Tumblr/Twitter combo features all kinds of archaeology-related news, even headlines that fall more on the cultural heritage issue side of things. It’s updated super frequently, making it impossible to miss anything too important if you’re on one of the two platforms.

The Archaeology News Network
This is a non-profit daily online newspaper featuring news related to archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology. They’re required reading on Twitter, and have a fancy website too.

Found mostly just the one place:

Looting Matters
Prof. David Gill is one of the lead archaeologists and researchers covering cultural heritage issues online. He blogs very frequently and generally keeps things succinct, outlining the important facts of cases and asking (but often not answering) big questions about the process of the case or how it will affect other issues. Required reading and a great way to get the gist of everything that’s going on when you’ve been away from it for a while.

Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire
Rick St. Hilaire is one of the best known cultural heritage lawyers, and his blog is one of the first I turn to when I’m ready for more than a summary understanding of the current issues. His posts offer very in-depth coverage of current cases and are fantastic for catching up when everyone’s like “OMG Cleveland Museum!” and you’re like “What about it?”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Need an internship this fall? Apply to the Sustainable Preservation Initiative!

Great news for undergrads looking for something other than coursework to get some experience this fall: the Sustainable Preservation Initiative is looking for interns! This is a really fabulous opportunity for any students looking to get their toes wet in the cultural heritage field. I'm personally a big fan of SPI not just because they have great principles, but because the work they do has a discernible impact. In this field, discernible impacts that help communities and preserve cultural heritage are too few and far between. This is an excellent opportunity for students to get experience with an organization employing simple methods with positive results. Also, those are some real nice people they have at SPI, you want to be a part of that.

From my friend at SPI, Rebekah Junkermeier:

"Interested in saving the world’s cultural heritage? Want to transform local communities while doing it? So do we. The Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI) is a new non-profit whose mission is to save cultural heritage sites around the globe, but in an entirely new way: through local economic development.

Traditionally, preservation organizations will throw a bunch of money at a site, building large and expensive museums or visitor centers in an attempt to attract tourism and protect the site from looting and decay. Time and time again, however, this paradigm fails. The museums close, the visitor centers are empty, and the site isn't preserved and continues to be looted, often by the impoverished local community. We think the problem with this model is the point of focus: the people actually living in the area tend to be an afterthought, if that. To provide themselves and their families with the essentials, it's not uncommon for local residents to take stones and artifacts, grow crops, or graze livestock on the sites. To prevent these destructive practices, SPI creates jobs by investing in locally-created and -run businesses whose success is tied to the preservation of the site. Not only are lives in the community transformed, but the endangered archaeological sites are preserved in a completely sustainable way.

We currently have two projects in Peru, one at San Jose de Moro and one at Pampas Gramalote, and are hoping to expand to three more sites by the end of the year.

We are looking for smart, self-motivated individuals passionate about cultural heritage and economic development to assist with the following this fall:

·      Organizing traditional and online fundraising programs
·      Writing and reviewing grant applications and reports
·      Administrative work
·      SPI’s website, Facebook page, and other social media
·      Preparing presentation materials
·      Assisting the Executive Director

Join us in saving sites by transforming lives!

We are located in New York City, but remote (online) internship positions will be considered depending on the candidate.

Email Rebekah Junkermeier, Program and Development Associate at SPI, at with a cover letter and CV to apply!"