Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Invented Fantasies – Using Social Media to Talk About Pseudoarchaeology

Four BIFHSGO members enjoyed the first in the 2018 series of Carleton University Shannon lectures. The second is this Friday, 19 October, an intriguing presentation by Steph Halmhofer (consultant archaeologist/bioarchaeologist with Bones, Stones, and Books)

Abstract

Skeletons of giants in British Columbia. People using psychic abilities to find proof that the empire of Atlantis included Nova Scotia. A cult in Quebec proposing aliens invented life on Earth. These sound like something you would find Dana Scully and Fox Mulder investigating in The X-Files. But I’m not Dana Scully, I’m an archaeologist. So why am I talking about aliens and giants? Because pseudoarchaeology, which includes the topics I’ve mentioned above, is a real concern facing both archaeologists and non-archaeologists. These theories can be found in books, television shows, and on social media but their negative impacts reach far beyond these pages and screens.

With rising popularity in social media and a currently combined total of around 440 million monthly users on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s not difficult to imagine how quickly pseudoarchaeological theories can spread online. But just as we use our knowledge and trowels, social media can also be a powerful tool in the archaeological toolkit, a toolkit I want to share through this lecture. We’ll talk about what pseudoarchaeology is, focusing largely on Canadian examples, and how you can identify it. We’ll talk about the racism of pseudoarchaeology. We’ll also talk about how various media platforms are used to spread pseudoarchaeology. And finally, we’ll talk about how archaeologists and non-archaeologists can use social media to talk about and de-bunk pseudoarchaeology.

Dunton Tower (room 2017), from 1:00-2:30 PM. Reception to follow.

Co-presented by the Department of History and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

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