In the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), the scriptural phrase “life here began out there” prompts the survivors of the Cylon attack to seek refuge in the mythic home-world, Earth. While the planet’s location lies buried in the obscure corners of cultural memory, the Colonial fleet manages to take its bearings from artefacts, ruins, and substrata along the way. But as a critical medium for investing and investigating historical and cultural identity in objects, archaeology also challenges the Colonials to evaluate the hierarchical distinctions between things and people that underlie their antagonism with the Cylon “machines.” Cylons and humans alike search for their origins, identity, and even survival among the shards of their shared material history in the race to Earth. BSG’s archaeological mise-en-scène affords meta-textual reflection on the central ethical and philosophical question fuelling the exodus narrative: how to understand and define humanity’s purpose out of the ruins of the contemporary world? The answer is that the Cylon Wars will rage until Colonial humanity accepts the Cylons’ desire to transcend the status of historical objects and become historical agents. Finding a (co)habitable destination requires both sides to open the archaeological record to inclusive narratives of origin.
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