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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The high public profile of archaeology in television, film, and other media focuses on new discoveries and fieldwork, with little attention to the interpretive issues or theoretical debates that underpin the activities portrayed. The relationship between media and public expectations of archaeology and scholarly and professional archaeological practices is an important one. While a popular emphasis on discovery may undermine archaeology as a professional discipline requiring intellectual as well as physical labour, archaeology’s cultural position extends beyond specific factual knowledge and the role of the expert or public intellectual. Arguably, archaeology is a way of making knowledge about the world. The way in which this is enacted across media makes knowledge claims, claims that are at once aesthetic, affective, and political and which therefore invite critical analysis. Yet research into the relationship between archaeology and the media generated by archaeologists remains polarized and largely focused on Western European and North American formations. Critical voices focus largely on demystifying narrative and tend towards a monolithic construction of the public and its (in)abilities to distinguish archaeological fact from fiction. Those who seek to counter that criticality have expounded the democratizing and participatory nature of mediatized archaeologies. What is missing from these accounts, however, is an understanding of media theories, histories, and policies and how they impact on the future of archaeological practices. This chapter seeks to identify where archaeological theory and moving images intersect, and asks how the conversation between archaeological and media theories might contribute to wider debates. Where are there points of intersection and difference, and how might an understanding of these allow archaeologists to engage productively and critically with media making, with media making as a form of ‘working through’?

Keywords: media, television, representation, performativity, agencies

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