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Donna Yates is an Associate Professor in the department of Criminal Law and Criminology at Maastricht University.

Previously she was a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow.

Donna has recently been awarded a €1.5 million European Research Council starting grant to study how objects influence criminal networks, with a particular focus on objects such as antiquities, fossils, and rare and collectible wildlife. She’s interested in what draws people to these “criminogenic collectibles”, how they interact with them, and how these objects may inspire crimes.

Donna has held a number of grants and awards related to researching the global trade in illicit antiquities. From 2012–2015 Donna held Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship and a Core Fulbright Award to study the trafficking of Latin American antiquities. This project focused on the relationship between communities, governments, the law, and the operation of transnational criminal markets and to help develop regulatory mechanisms for controlling the illicit antiquities trade in that region, based on fieldwork in Bolivia, Belize, and Mexico. Her other antiquities trafficking field research includes work in Guatemala, Nepal, and Greece.

She has also conducted research in this area for the European Commission and has provided expert consultation, training, and advice to multiple governments and agencies, and relevant intergovernmental organisations such as UNESCO and UNODC.

She completed her PhD in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge looking at the legal, social, and political construction of archaeology and heritage in the rapidly changing social and political climate of modern Bolivia. Her first degree was in Archaeology at Boston University with a focus on Mesoamerica. She went on to complete an MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums at Cambridge. Her MPhil thesis documented the market for illicit South American antiquities at US-based auctions.




University of Maastricht


University of Maastricht
Faculty of Law
Bouillonstraat 1-3
6211 LH Maastricht

Research Themes

Crimes of the Powerful: organised, white collar and state crime

February 2017

Trafficking Cultural Objects and Human Rights

Excerpt: Since the end of the second world war, international cultural heritage protection law and its domestic legal components have […]

Collectors on illicit collecting: higher loyalties and other techniques of neutralization in the unlawful collecting of rare and precious orchids and antiquities


Museums, collectors, and value manipulation: tax fraud through donation of antiquities


Illicit Cultural Property from Latin America: Looting, Trafficking and Sale


Value and doubt: the persuasive power of ‘authenticity’ in the antiquities market


Archaeology and Autonomies: The Legal Framework of Heritage Management in a new Bolivia

The 2009 Bolivian Constitution significantly changed the structure of the state and paved the way for the creation of regional, […]


Archaeological Practice and Political Change

In this study I will explore how major governmental changes in Bolivia affected both archaeological practice and the socio-political use […]

14th January 2009

The International Market in Illicit Antiquities

Simon Mackenzie has conducted two empirical research projects into looted antiquities to date.  The first was a study of the […]

21st July 2019

The Market for Mesoamerica: new book co-edited by Donna Yates and Cara Tremain

24th August 2016

Donna Yates joins culture summit debate

4th April 2016

Trafficking Culture researchers join landmark UNESCO round table in Paris

1st March 2016

Donna Yates talks to the media about major museum thefts

17th December 2015

SCCJR researchers contribute to free book on the trafficking of cultural goods

22nd October 2015

Free online course in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime

14th September 2015

Trafficking Culture: What’s It To Me? seminar series begins

2nd September 2015

Trafficking Culture team present at European archaeology conference

8th July 2015

Donna Yates talks Trafficking Culture in post-earthquake Nepal