[another post that's been hanging around in the drafts files for a few months]

It was nice of Santa to bring me a boxed set of all 4 Indiana Jones movies on BluRay, since I need them for thesis research.

When we watch movies in La Florida, we tend to turn the volume up very loud to compensate for the weird acoustics in mom’s house and the fact that mom tends to wander in and out of the room a lot and then ask a lot of questions because she has no idea what’s happening in the movie.

This results in all of us yelling, “WHAT???” at one another until someone pauses and/or runs back the movie.

We watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom on New Year’s Eve. Mom had a LOT of questions.

This didn’t lead to me questioning my commitment to archaeology but did result in me renewing my commitment to bourbon.

There was one thing we could all agree on: Well of Souls and Snakes would make the worst restaurant concept ever.

{ 2 comments }

The Institute for Figuring posted this exciting note on facebook yesterday:

IFF Director, Margaret Wertheim’s, TED Talk about our Crochet Coral Reef project as an artistic response to global warming, has reached a million views. We’re currently working on a book about the project that will highlight all 30 Crochet Reefs around the world and the 8000 participants who have contributed to these unique marine-inspired installations.

Here’s the talk, in case you haven’t seen it:

Here’s a detail photo from the Smithsonian Community Reef (October 16, 2010-April 24, 2011), in case you’ve forgotten how amazing it was:



Photo by MeanLouise

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

updated 2:30 p.m. EST with two more links at the end of the post.

I was on campus until rather late last night and didn’t get a chance to update the list of articles critiquing and opposing the National Geographic Channel’s Nazi War Diggers, a proposed 4 part series which appeared to portray archaeology as treasure hunting and showed human remains being excavated in a grotesquely cavalier manner.

My previous link round-up posts are here: Nazi War Diggers: Part II and here: Nazi War Diggers: Part I.

There are some excellent articles that I’ll link to at the end of this post, but I’m going to start with the good news Tom Mashberg reported in the New York Times: “National Geographic Channel Pulls ‘Nazi War Diggers’ Series.”

It should be noted that the show does not appear to have officially been cancelled – it has been “postponed indefinitely,” which can mean a lot of things in the world of broadcast media and video on demand.

Still, it’s a positive sign and one that the National Geographic Channel should be given credit for, particularly in light of how firmly they seemed to be digging their heels in as recently as Friday.

I want to highlight a few sections of the article since it may be behind a paywall for some readers.

First, it’s important to note that the National Geographic Society did listen to the archaeologists affiliated with the society and acknowledged their concerns:

National Geographic Channel said Monday that it would “indefinitely” pull a planned television series on unearthing Nazi war graves after days of blistering criticism from archeologists and others who said the show handled the dead with macabre disrespect.

The channel said that after “consulting with colleagues” at the National Geographic Society, it would not broadcast the series, “Nazi War Diggers,” in May as scheduled “while questions raised in recent days regarding accusations about the program can be properly reviewed.” The show was to have been broadcast globally except in the United States.

Additionally, this section explaining that the Latvian War Museum opposed the show is important because inaccurate rumors about their involvement could have serious consequences for them in the future:

The channel said in its Friday statement that the Latvian government had approved the team’s work, which took place on Latvian and Polish soil. But the critics contacted the Latvian War Museum, which said in a statement that it had opposed the show.

National Geographic also said that none of the items dug up during filming would be sold but instead would be donated to war museums. The critics however found a posting on a military collectors’ online forum in which Mr. Gottlieb described locating a Latvian war helmet in June and preparing it for sale.

On to the links I intended to post yesterday, which raise many relevant questions and concerns and explain why NatGeo TV’s defensive arguments on Friday were so problematic.

I think these are vital reads regardless of the fate of the show because they get to a lot of larger issues that archaeologists, public historians, curators, and others face on a regular basis, particularly in the age of Infotainment and manufactured television “reality.”

Sam Hardy at Conflict Antiquities: ‘No trouble with customs.’ Perhaps trouble with repeatedly written confessions?

Alison Atkin at Deathsplanation: “On the Importance of Context.”

updates:
Andy Brockman at Heritage Daily: Springtime for Hitler and “Nazi War [Death Porn] Diggers”

Additionally, this letter from the Presidents of a number of major anthropological and archaeological professional organizations has been added to the American Anthropological Association site:

The Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), the American Anthropological Association (AAA), the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), and the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) wish
to express our deep disappointment and grave concern about the upcoming National Geographic Channel
International’s (NGCI’s) show, Nazi War Diggers. Together, SAA, SHA, AIA, AAA, EAA, and EASA
represent more than 10,000 professional archaeologists and more than 600,000 individuals interested in
archaeology. Our members live and work in all parts of the world, including the areas ravaged by World
War II.

(read the rest of the letter here).

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Nazi War Diggers, part II

by meanlouise on March 28, 2014

in academia, anthropology, television

Yesterday, I posted about a new NatGeo TV show, Nazi War Diggers. The list of blog posts and open letters criticizing the show continues to grow.

Alison Atkin (Deathsplanation, doctoral researcher at The University of Sheffield Department of Archaeology) “Dear National Geographic Channel UK.” This post also contains a pdf of the letter the National Geographic Channel has sent out in response to the outcry.

Dr. Donna Yates (research fellow on the University of Glasgow’s Trafficking Culture project): “Nazi War Diggers: Looting war graves on TV.”

Paul Mullens (Archaeology and Material Culture, Chair of the Anthropology Department at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis): “The Peep Show of Death: Televising Human Remains.”

Even as the National Geographic Channel scrambles to argue that everything will be fine once we see the context of the clip, they fail to acknowledge a key issue. As Mullens writes:

Shows that tear bottles and bullets out of archaeological context violate archaeological ethics because they make no effort to systematically interpret the material record and they quite often recover things simply for commercial benefit. Reducing human bodies to the same status as bottles to be trafficked online has consequential methodological, ethical, and moral implications alike.

Tom Mashberg’s New York Times article, “TV Series is criticized in handling of deceased,” will hopefully reach an audience beyond the bio/archaeology community. The National Geographic Channel is quoted in the article:

“Part of it is our fault because we released a clip completely out of context that was not representative of the show,” he said. “But I hope people will withhold judgment until the show starts.”

This raised many an eyebrow on twitter. The clip, which shows a group of men cavalierly scraping dirt away from human remains and prying a broken femur out of the ground in a manner that no amount of context will make acceptable. The article concludes:

One of the two metal-detecting specialists on the show, Kris Rodgers, said on Twitter that he agreed the show had been promoted with “a very bad clip.” In response to the outcry, however, he added: “Trust me. It was done properly.”

No. It clearly wasn’t.

Additionally, Archaeosoup has a special episode about the show. Although NatGeo TV has taken down the clip, you can see it in this episode.


Oh! Bodies and Academia is also collecting up links about the show: “Grave Robbing” on TV?”

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Nazi War Diggers

by meanlouise on March 27, 2014

in academia, anthropology, television

That title sounds like the lead-in to a post about craptacular SyFy movies. Or maybe a political post about the rhetoric around the NeoLiberal military-industrial complex. Sadly, it’s about neither of those things. Nazi War Diggers is an upcoming 4-part series on National Geographic International. TV Wise announced it will begin airing on May 13th.


Nazi War Diggers, National Geographic Channel
Photo posted on Nazi War Diggers show site

NatGeoTV, which is owned by FOX and promoted as a partnership with the National Geographic Society, already airs an ethically-challenged show called Diggers. Despite critiques by professional associations such as the Society for American Archaeology, the show continues to air and is now in its third season.

The clip posted yesterday on the Nazi War Diggers website showed these self-professed metal detector enthusiasts digging up human remains from an unmarked Latvian grave. The clip has since been removed but the page remains and the publicity photos were still online as of this afternoon.

I’ve been rounding up blog posts about the show.

Bioarchaeologist Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons blog): “Who needs an osteologist, volume 11.”

John R. Roby (Digs and Docs): “We don’t need a TV show about looting Nazi battlefields.”

Archaeologist Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues blog): “National Geographic use metal detectors, find new low.”

Conflict Antiquities: “urgent ethical and legal questions for National Geographic, ClearStory and their Nazi War Diggers.”

Alison Atkin of Deathsplanation summed up my feelings with an animated gif: “Nazi War Diggers.”

Archaeologist and TV producer Annelise Baer (Archaeologist for Hire blog): “Let’s talk more about Nazi War Diggers.”

I’ll add posts as I run across them.

Added March 28, 2014: Nazi War Diggers, part II.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

birthdays & blog themes & bourbon

by meanlouise March 9, 2014 true life 2014

I don’t know the original source of the image or any of the important things one should know before posting an image publicly, so I’ll take all blame for sharing it here. My pal Sal made me this hilarious rendition of the party he’d throw me if he could invite monkeys, manatees, and gators to […]

Read the full article →

Russell Crowe tweeted to the Pope…

by meanlouise February 25, 2014 movies

…and I nearly snorted coffee out my nose because I laughed so hard. Dear Holy Father @Pontifex @Pontifex_it @DarrenAronofsky #Noah film. Screening?The message of the film is powerful , fascinating , resonant — Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) February 24, 2014 Luckily, if the Pope snorts coffee out his nose, he’s got a guy to clean it […]

Read the full article →

Pompeii & Project Runway. Disaster Epic or Epic Disaster? Yes!

by meanlouise February 21, 2014 movies

Last night on Project Runway: Under the Gunn, the challenge was to design a collection inspired by the slave/buddy cop adventure-love story disaster epic, Pompeii. Seriously. One team chose to design a resort collection, because nothing says “high end resort lifestyle” like a slave fighting a volcano to save the woman he loves. I guess. […]

Read the full article →

Know your place, girlies!

by meanlouise February 17, 2014 music

update at the bottom of the post, edits made at 1:53 p.m. Somehow, through some wrinkle in the space-time continuum, many of my friends have tween or teenagers. Most of them being at least middle class, they play musical instruments. Some have formed or joined bands. In addition to learning all the stuff that goes […]

Read the full article →

I met the First Lady of France!

by meanlouise February 13, 2014 humor

Years ago, I ran into Stephen Colbert on campus. We chatted for several minutes before I realized he wasn’t a coworker, but was instead a magical television friend. That was back in ye olde days when Colbert was a correspondent for The Daily Show. (He was exiting the men’s room in our department, in that […]

Read the full article →