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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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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

(p.95) Chapter 5 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Excavating the Future

Shawn Malley

Liverpool University Press

This chapter transposes the analogical investigation of ancient astronauts as a source of geopolitical meditation in Ancient Aliens to a SF film that make this connection explicit: Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull (2006), which adapts the cinematic antecedent of 1950s B SF movies—in which aliens function as a trope for governmental conspiracy, atomic anxiety, and Soviet hysteria—into ancient astronaut discourse. An interesting subtext of Spielberg’s nostalgic throwback to SF film history is the nature of the aliens themselves. As archaeologists and collectors, they replicate the kinds of colonial archaeology that Jones and even the audience may take for granted. These beings function within the SF métier as an external threat, but they simultaneously sanction the civilizing activities undertaken by democratic institutions like the British Museum, Louvre and Metropolitan Museum. The film thus neatly closes the hermeneutic circle on the Indiana Jones franchise by mining its latent SF tropes: the intrepid figure of colonial archaeology is reinvigorated through the exotic adventures of technologically-advanced beings from outer space. Archaeology is a device for manifesting threats that can be foiled by the very scientific structures and geopolitical forces that inform the entertaining world of action and adventure.

Keywords:   science fiction film and television, archaeology, geopolitics, ancient astronaut theory, atomic age, Mayan calendar, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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