Learn how to spot archaeological conspiracy theories and why they are harmful.
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Comments about extraterrestrials building pyramids, or the moundbuilders being red-haired giants, or survivors of Mu or Atlantis being the ancestors of Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica may seem harmlessly fun to entertain. Afterall, the television show "Ancient Aliens" is in its 18th season, and the Discovery channel has produced numerous documentaries about Atlantis. If these theories are being shared on major TV networks, how harmful could they be? The truth is that these theories are actually deeply harmful. Pseudoarchaeology, or archaeological conspiracy theories that propose alternative claims about human history like the examples I've given above, is invariably biased against racialized peoples around the world and seeks to cast doubt about their achievements across time, which opens it for use in dangerous ways. In this presentation I want to talk about what pseudoarchaeology is and why it's so harmful. How do we tell pseudoarchaeology apart from just general misinterpretations of archaeology? How does pseudoarchaeology perpetuate racism? And how has pseudoarchaeology been connected to acts of violence, both past and present?
Stephanie Halmhofer has been an archaeologist in Canada for over 10 years and have worked in several provinces across the country, as well as in southeastern Spain. "Currently I am also a PhD student in the Institute for Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology at the University of Alberta. My research examines the ways pseudoarchaeology is used by far-right conspiritual individuals and groups (conspirituality is the blending of conspiracy theories with New Age spirituality) in historical and contemporary North America. Much of my research is centred on Brother XII and the Aquarian Foundation, a conspiritual group with headquarters in British Columbia in the late 1920s, and similarities they shared with contemporary far-right conspirituality."