PhD, Archaeology, University of Cambridge, 2012

Archaeological Practice and Political Change: Transitions and Transformations in the Use of the Past in Nationalist, Neoliberal and Indigenous Bolivia

MPhil, Archaeological Heritage and Museums, University of Cambridge, 2006

South America on the Block: The changing face of Pre-Columbian antiquities auctions in response to international law

BA, Archaeology, Boston University, 2004

Academic appointments:

Lecturer (current) School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (2012–2015) School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow

Research Associate (2012–2015) Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Glasgow

Research interests:

  • Illicit trafficking of cultural objects
  • Archaeology and art of Latin America and South Asia
  • Indigenous cultural and political movements
  • Heritage and museum studies
  • Cultural property ethics and law

Grants and awards

  • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2012–2015)
  • Fulbright Core Research Grant (2012–2015)
  • BOLD Strategic Investment in Online Course Delivery, University of Glasgow (2015– )
  • Seedcorn funding for partnership development in Nepal, University of Glasgow (2015)
  • Presidential Management Fellowship, US Govt, Office of Personnel Management (2010–2011)
  • JB Trend Fund, University of Cambridge (2007)
  • Overseas Student Bursary, Cambridge Overseas Trust (2006–2009)
  • Trinity Hall Research Bursary (2006–2009)
  • Oak Ridge Center for Science and Education Research Grant (2001–2002)


Yates, Donna and S. Mackenzie (In Press 2015) Collectors on illicit collecting: higher loyalties and other techniques of neutralization in the unlawful collecting of rare and precious orchids and antiquities. Theoretical Criminology.

Yates, Donna (2015) Reality and Practicality: Challenges to Effective Cultural Property Policy on the Ground in Latin America. International Journal of Cultural Property 22 (2-3): 337–356.

Yates, Donna (2015) Value and doubt: the persuasive power of ‘authenticity’ in the antiquities market. PARSE: Platform for Artistic Work Sweden 2: 71–84.

Yates, Donna (In Press 2015) Museums, collectors, and value manipulation: tax fraud through donation of antiquities. Journal of Financial Crime 22 (1).

Yates, Donna (In Press 2015) Looting, trafficking, and sale of illicit cultural property from Latin America. International Council of Museums’ International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods, F. Demaris (ed).

Mackenzie, S. and Donna Yates (In Press 2015) Criminology, Human Rights and Trafficking Cultural Objects. In Routledge Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights, L. Weber, E. Fishwick and M. Marmo (eds). London, Routledge.

M. Lambert and Donna Yates (2015) Crime, controversy and the comments section: Discussing archaeological looting, trafficking, and the illicit antiquities trade online. Internet Archaeology 39.

Yates, Donna (2014) Displacement, deforestation, and drugs: antiquities trafficking and the narcotics support economies of Guatemala. In Cultural Property Crimes: an overview and analysis on contemporary perspectives and trends, J. Kila and M. Balcells (eds). Brill: Leiden, pp. 21–36.

Yates, Donna (2014) Church theft, insecurity, and community justice: the reality of source-end regulation of the market for illicit Bolivian cultural objects. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 20 (4): 445–457.

Yates, Donna (2014) Lies, damned lies, and archaeologists: antiquities trafficking research as criminology and the ethics of identification. Arqueología Publica Special Issue, pp. 7–19.

Yates, Donna (2013) Publication as Preservation: A Remote Maya Site in the Early 20th Century. In From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire, 1800–1950, A. Swenson and P. Mandler (eds). Proceedings of the British Academy, Oxford University Press, pp. 217–239.

Yates, Donna (2013) The Theft of Cultural Property in Bolivia: the absence of metal detectors. Arqueología Publica 3.

Yates, Donna (2012) Imagined Heritage [LOTR tourism]. Love Archaeology 3: 28–29.

Yates, Donna (2012) Review: Interpreting the Past. In Science and the Material Record. D. Parikh and K. Hall (eds). Archaeological Review from Cambridge Vol. 27.

Yates, Donna (2011) Archaeology and Autonomies: The Legal Framework of Heritage Management in a New Bolivia. The International Journal of Cultural Property 18(3): 291–307.

Yates, Donna and T.C. Pruitt, editors (2009) Invention and Reinvention: Perceptions and Archaeological Practice. Archaeological Review from Cambridge, Vol. 24.

Yates, Donna (2008) Review: Janaab’ Pakal of Palenque. In Archaeological Histories, M. Boddington & N. Farrington (eds). Archaeological Review from Cambridge, Vol. 23.

Editorial work and review

Peer review of papers for the Journal of Field Archaeology, the European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, the Journal of Crime, Law and Social Change, Advances in Archaeological Practice, and Arqueología Publica.

Editorial Board Member, The Archaeological Review from Cambridge (2007–2010).

Public Engagement and Popular Media

Websites and blogs

Trafficking Culture Encyclopedia:
Extensive collection of articles concerning case studies in the trafficking of cultural property

Stolen Gods:
Articles and information about the theft, trafficking, destruction, and preservation of the world’s sacred art

Property of an Anonymous Swiss Collector:
Commentary on looting, antiquities trafficking, and art crime

Grotesque Stone Idols:
Commentary on heritage, politics, archaeology, wonder, and nostalgia

Culture Crime News:
Weekly newsletter; analysis of antiquities trafficking and art crime news from the previous week

Active, well followed twitter account for news related to research

A tongue-in-cheek account devoted to academic fun

The twitter account of the Stolen Gods website.

Popular media (as author)

Yates, Donna (2015) History Matters: Trafficking Culture. History Today, June, 3–4.

Yates, Donna (2014) ‘@LegoAcademics: smashing gender stereotyping one brick at a time‘. Times Higher Education, 15 August.

Yates, Donna (2014) ‘Lost cities and looted tombs: Studying artifact smuggling in Belize‘. Day of Archaeology, 11 July.

Yates, Donna (2013) ‘High Crimes: Studying the illicit antiquities trade in the Bolivian Andes‘. Day of Archaeology, 26 July.
Yates, Donna (2013) ‘A dark past in Bolivian silver mines‘. Union Solidarity International, 4 March.

Yates, Donna (2013) ‘Walmart destroys the cultural heritage of Mexico‘. Union Solidarity International, 26 April.

Yates, Donna (2013) ‘Ancient temple bulldozed in Belize for road construction‘. Union Solidarity International, 14 May.

Yates, Donna, C. Erickson and S. Alconini (2011) ‘Summary of the Bolivia-United States MoU Extension Hearing‘. Archaeological Institute of America News. 4 August.

Selected interviews and media features

Meet the lonely online warriors leading the fight against looted art. Fusion. 24 November 2015.

Scotland’s elite archaeologists target global tomb raiders. Sunday Herald. 30 August 2015.

India struggles to halt multimillion dollar trade in stolen artworks. The Guardian. 3 August 2015.

Criminology tools can curb illicit trade in artefacts. The Himalayan Times. 15 July 2015.

Protecting the Ruins. Nepali Times. 24–30 July 2015.

Sacred Indian art is seen more as “Art” than as “Sacred” in the art market: Dr. Donna Yates. NewsGram. 14 July 2015.

Idol Pursuit: Intrepid bloggers try to retrieve stolen sacred art from around the world. India Today. 22 June 2015.

Christie’s artefacts linked to organised crime. The Scotsman. 13 April 2015.

Sold to the Highest Bidder: Antiquities as Cash Cows: The case of the AIA-St. Louis Society and the Treasure of Harageh. Biblical History Daily 4 February 2015.

On NewsDrive to discuss the conservation of King Tut’s mask. BBC Radio Scotland 23 January 2015.

Cultural guardian confronts the looters. Times Higher Education, 15 January 2015.

Keep adding colour to academic online self-portraits. Times Higher Education 8 January 2015.

Archaeological Society in St. Louis Places Ancient Artifacts on the Auction Block. Popular Archaeology 28 October 2014.

On Insight Science to discuss positive role models in academia for children and @Legoacademics, BBC Radio4 21 August 2014

The challenges of being a woman scientist in Lego. The Guardian 13 August 2014.

Lego’s new female scientists set already has an awesome new Twitter tribute. Washington Post Aug. 2014.

Similar stories in major news outlets including The Telegraph, The Metro, STV, The Herald, The Scotsman, Irish Independent, Huffington Post, Huffington Post Japan, El Mucurio, etc.

On Good Morning Scotland to discuss women in academia and @LegoAcademics 12 August 2014; to discuss antiquities trafficking 5 April 2014. BBC Radio Scotland.

Glasgow University uncovers relic looting networks. The Scotsman 1 July 2014.

New Evidence Ties Illegal Antiquities Trade to Terrorism, Violent Crime. National Geographic 13 June 2014.

Cone-heads take to the street in Glasgow. The World: PRI November 2014

Similar stories in most news outlets including The Herald, Skye News, The Guardian, The Independent, BBC News, etc.

Andean churches plagued by sacred art thefts. Associated Press August 2013.

Playing hardball with soft power: Western museums are feeling the pressure over restitution claims from China, Turkey and Cambodia. Art Newspaper October 2013.

British called upon to stem the illicit trade of artefacts. Art Newspaper October 2012.

Glasgow team gets £1m grant to study illegal trade in antiquities. Guardian Scotland February 2012.

Conference participation

Roundtable participant (2015) Global Trafficking in Art & Antiquities. Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology. Washington D.C.

Yates, Donna (2015) Preventing protection: On-the-ground barriers to effective cultural property policy in Bolivia and Belize. Annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Glasgow.

Yates, Donna and G. Doig (2015) “Does anyone really think that a raised plinth will deter drunk Glaswegians?” Traffic cone preservation and the online democratisation of heritage. Annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Glasgow.

Mackenzie, S., N. Brodie and Donna Yates (2015) Perspectives on Crime and Crime Control Policy from the Trafficking Culture Project. Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference, Association for Research into Crimes against Art, Amelia, Italy.

Yates, Donna and N. Brodie (2015) Cultural property protection law: retrospect and prospect. Art & Law: Art in Peril, University of Cambridge.

Symposium organiser and chair (2015) Investigating the trafficking of cultural objects: novel and interdisciplinary approaches. Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco.

Yates, Donna (2015) The ruin of the Maya heartland: successes, failures, and consequences of four decades of antiquities trafficking regulation. Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco.

Yates, Donna (2014) Tombs, Temples, and Trafficking: Criminal Adaptations to Regulation of the Illicit Trade in Maya Antiquities. Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, San Francisco.

Mackenzie, S. and Donna Yates (2014) Organized Temple Looting and International Trafficking. Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, San Francisco.

Yates, Donna (2014) Discussant. To Publish or Not to Publish: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Politics, Ethics, and Economics of Ancient Artefacts. University of Manchester.

Brodie, N. and Donna Yates (2014) Cultural Property Protection Policy Failure. All Art and Cultural Heritage Law Conference, Art-Law Centre, University of Geneva.

Symposium organiser and chair (2014) Trafficking Cultural Objects. Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin.

Yates, Donna and G. Lee (2014) ‘Good’ Provenance, Repatriation Requests and Auction Failure: Can We Learn Anything from Sotheby’s sale of Pre-Columbian Antiquities from the Barbier-Mueller Collection? Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin.

Yates, Donna and R. Elgin (2013) Sticks v. Stones: A Comparative Discussion of the Commercialization and Regulation of Palaeontological and Archaeological Material. The Past for Sale? New Perspectives on the Economic Entanglements of Cultural Heritage, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Center for Heritage and Society.

Yates, Donna (2012) High Crimes: Investigating the Theft of Cultural Property from Colonial Period Andean Churches. Annual Conference of the Theoretical Archaeology Group, Liverpool.

Yates, Donna (2012) Disciplinary Identification, Archaeological Identity, and the Ethics of Doing the Same Stuff, only as a Criminologist. Annual Conference of the Theoretical Archaeology Group, Liverpool.

Yates, Donna (2011) Pre-Conquest Utopia and how a ‘Republic’ Becomes ‘Plurinational’: The Bolivian State in the 21st Century. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Montreal.

Yates, Donna (2011) Now Who Owns the Past? Bolivian Autonomies, Antiquities Trafficking, and How Archaeologists Should Speak to the State Department. Northeast Conference on Andean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Andover.

Yates, Donna (2009) Publication as Preservation: Early 20th Century Excavations at Holmul, Guatemala. From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the ‘Heritage’ of Empire, c. 1820–1940, Cambridge.

Yates, Donna (2009) A Study of South American Antiquities in the Art Market: The Case for Financial Data. Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, Philadelphia.

Yates, Donna (2008) Understanding Bolivian Nationalism, Nativism, and Race: Methodological Hurdles in the Study of the Public use of the Past. World Archaeological Congress, Dublin.

Yates, Donna (2008) The Return of the Sun: Invention, Commodification, and Co-option of Solstice Ceremonies in the Andes. Packaging the Past: Cambridge Heritage Seminar, Cambridge.

Yates, Donna and J. Augustine, (2006) Redefining The West Side of the Akapana: Excavations at the Monumental Core of Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Conference, Los Angeles.

Yates, Donna and J. Augustine (2006) New Discoveries and Unexpected Contexts: Continued Excavations to the West of the Akapana Pyramid, Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Juan.

Yates, Donna and M. Skidmore (2005) Alternative Use of Space: Results of the 2004 Excavations on the West Side of the Akapana Pyramid, Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Salt Lake City.

Invited lectures, seminars and training workshops

Yale University Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Invited Lecture: Tracking Stolen Gods: Using criminological tools to prevent antiquities trafficking. New Haven, November 2015.

University of Chicago Invited Lecture: Toward a framework for critical engagement with crime control policy in trafficking cultural objects, with Simon Mackenzie and Neil Brodie. Chicago, November 2015.

DePaul University College of Law Invited Lecture: Organized And White-Collar Crime In Trafficking Networks, with Simon Mackenzie and Neil Brodie. Chicago, November 2015.

Trafficking Culture Society Seminar Series: Cultural Heritage Protection in Pre- And Post-Earthquake Nepal: Challenges and Opportunities for Researchers. Glasgow, October 2015.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery/Glasgow Explorathon Public Lecture: Stolen Gods: Researching the illicit trade in looted antiquities with the Trafficking Culture Project. Glasgow, September 2015.

City of Kathmandu/Nepal Tourism Board Invited Lecture: Stolen Gods: Criminological Approaches to the Illicit Trade in Antiquities. Kathmandu, July 2015.

University of Glasgow Institute of Art History 18th Century Seminar Series. Lecture: Lost cities and jungle ruins: Frederick Catherwood’s images of the ancient Maya. Glasgow, February 2015.

University of Pennsylvania Cultural Heritage Center Seminar: Trafficking Culture. With Simon Mackenzie and Neil Brodie. Philadelphia, November 2014.

International Council of Museums International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods Meeting. Editorial Committee member (representing Trafficking Culture). Paris, November 2014.

Arts and Humanities Research Council Skills in Action series. Speaker: Engaging Audiences Outside of Academia: Knowledge Exchange for Early Career Researchers. Edinburgh, November 2014.

University of Reading Department of Archaeology. Lecture: Organized Crime, White Collar Crime, Crimes of the Powerful: Criminological Approaches to the Illicit Trade in Antiquities. Reading, October 2014.

University of Essex School of Philosophy and Art History. Lecture: Trafficking Culture: The Transnational Illicit Trade in Antiquities from Source to Market. Colchester, October 2014.

University of Pennsylvania Cultural Heritage Center. Seminar: Trafficking Culture: Researching the Global Traffic in Looted Cultural Objects. Philadelphia, November 2014.

Maya Research Program, University of Texas. Lecture: Looting and Trafficking of Maya Antiquities, Belize, July 2014.

Art-Law Centre, University of Geneva. Panel member: Cultural Heritage Law Conference. Geneva, June 2014.

University of Glasgow. Invited speaker and panel member: Doing Fieldwork in Latin America. May 2014.

Christies Masters Programme in Art, Law and Business. Lecture: Trafficking Culture: Researching the Global Trade in Looted Cultural Objects. Glasgow, November 2013.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Training workshop leader: Illicit Cultural Property: A case study of circumventing existing regulation, Vienna, September 2013.

University of Cambridge, Cambridge Heritage Research Group Seminar Series. Seminar: Cultural Property, Andean Church Theft, and Mummies in the Post: Developing Method and Theory to Understand Transnational Heritage Crime. Cambridge, January 2013.

University of Cambridge, Archaeological Heritage and Museums MPhil Programme. Lecture: Illicit Antiquities Trafficking and Subsistence Digging. Cambridge, January 2013.

University of Cambridge, Trinity Hall McMenemy Seminar Series. Seminar: Trinity Hall, Trinidad, Tonga, Torres Strait, Tikal: The Life of Archaeologist and Adventurer Alfred Maudslay. Cambridge, 2008. Also: The Spoils of El Dorado: Antiquities Trafficking in Ecuador, 2007.

University of Cambridge, Archaeology Department Graduate Seminar Series. Seminar: Sipán and Antiquities Trafficking in South America. Cambridge, 2008.

University of Cambridge, Archaeological Field Club. Lecture: The Looting of Sipán: An Introduction to the South American Antiquities Trade. Cambridge, 2007.


  • MOOC/Free Online Course Designer and Instructor (2015–Present) University of Glasgow/FutureLearn: Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime
  • Module Coordinator (2013–Present) University of Glasgow; MRes in Criminology; Module: International Trafficking in Cultural Objects
  • Postgraduate Skills Workshop leader (2014–Present) University of Glasgow; Professional development seminar series for Trafficking Culture postgraduate students
  • MRes Thesis Supervisor (2012–Present) University of Glasgow; Criminology and Sociology masters program
  • Lecturer (2013–Present) University of Glasgow; MRes in Criminology
  • Guest Lecturer (2014) Carlton University; MA in History, Course: Illicit Antiquities
  • Guest Lecturer (2014) University of Pennsylvania; BA in Archaeology
  • Guest Lecturer (2013) University of Glasgow; MSc in Art, Law & Business; Christies Education Programme
  • Guest Lecturer (2013) University of Cambridge; MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums
  • Lecturer/Graduate Tutor (2009) University of Cambridge; BA in Archaeology, Course: Archaeological Heritage
  • Graduate Tutor (2008) University of Cambridge; BA in Archaeology, Course: South American Archaeology
  • Field Methods Instructor (2004–2008); Field schools in the UK, Greece, Bolivia, and Ecuador

Research projects and fieldwork

Principal Investigator (2012–2015) Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research

  • Illicit Traffic in Latin American Antiquities. Fieldwork in Bolivia (2013), Belize (2014), Mexico (2015)
  • Illicit Traffic in Sacred Art. Fieldwork in Nepal (2014, 2015)

Fulbright Fellow (2012–2013) Bolivia; Archaeology & Autonomies: International partnership and preservation in a new Bolivia

Research Assistant (2008–2010) University of Cambridge; India-UK Collaborative Research Project: Land, Water and Settlement

Archaeologist (2007) University of Wisconsin; Palmitopamba Project, Pinchincha Province (Ecuador)

Archaeologist (2007) University of Cambridge; Keros Archaeological Project, Keros (Greece)

Exhibition Coordinator (2005–2006) University of Cambridge; Excavating the Archaeologist, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Archaeologist (2004–2006) University of Pennsylvania; Pumapunku Akapana Proyecto Arqueoloógico, Tiwanaku Wold Heritage Site (Bolivia)

Research Assistant (2002–2004) Boston University

  • Lab analysis, K’axob Archaeological Project (Belize)
  • Center for Archaeological Studies

Archaeologist (2003) Vanderbilt University; Holmul Archaeological Project (Guatemala)