What is Grey About the ‘Grey Market’ in Antiquities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The global market in antiquities has been described as a grey market. We provide a breakdown of the meanings and implications of this greyness. Usually the term refers to the mixing of recently looted antiquities with those that can be sold legally, thus the antiquities market is grey because illicit objects are sold via a public and purportedly legitimate network of dealers and auction houses. This is supported by a second form of greyness: the ethically grey status of individual looted objects after time and their passage through jurisdictions via multiple trades obscures or overwrites their illicit origins. It is also supported by a greying of ethical judgment, achieved through a discourse that permits the purchase of illicit objects in constructed circumstances of “saving” or “preserving” artifacts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Architecture of Illegal Markets
Subtitle of host publicationTowards an Economic Sociology of Illegality in the Economy
EditorsJ. Beckert, M. Dewey
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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