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Excavating the FutureArchaeology and Geopolitics in Contemporary North American Science Fiction Film and Television$
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Shawn Malley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941190

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941190.001.0001

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Ancient Aliens

Ancient Aliens

Chapter:
(p.82) Chapter 4 Ancient Aliens
Source:
Excavating the Future
Author(s):

Shawn Malley

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781786941190.003.0005

Focusing on the History Channel's popular series Ancient Aliens (2009-), this chapter examines how the (pseudo)documentary mode of representing the incredible idea that extra-terrestrial intelligences intervened in human history directs amateur experiences of archaeology towards SF conventions. Integral to these viewing experiences of Ancient Aliens are the kinds of future-pasts exposed in the series. Of particular interest is the threatening sense of the past, which capitalizes and obliquely comments on the current state of insecurity generated in all sorts of news, documentary and fictional media. This chapter contends that recurrent themes such as doomsday weapons, extra-terrestrial invasion threats, government conspiracies, genetic tampering, the rise and fall of civilizations, the Mayan calendar, and the insistent focus on the Middle East as the origin of civilization and setting for the (imminent) apocalypse cast palpable contemporary geopolitical anxieties into challenging narratives of cultural origins. As such, the ancient alien topos, though pseudo-archaeological, is a significant cultural expression of the dialogic relationship between archaeology and SF film and television as popular and imaginative expressions of historical identity and geopolitical mediation.

Keywords:   science fiction film and television, archaeology, geopolitics, ancient astronaut theory, pseudo-archaeology, Mayan calendar, apocalypse, Ancient Aliens

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