Comics, Colonialism, & Pseudoarchaeology: The Case of "La Crane de Mkwawa"

Author(s): Katie Biittner

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Interactions with Pseudoarchaeology: Approaches to the Use of Social Media and the Internet for Correcting Misconceptions of Archaeology in Virtual Spaces" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Archaeologists are frequently represented in comic books as caricatures, where adventure and profit are exaggerated and the interpretation of finds is oversimplified. In this paper it is argued that these misrepresentations of how and why we do archaeology directly reinforce pseudoscientific explanations of the past, as well as contribute to the ongoing colonialism of indigenous peoples by exoticizing their identities and denying their voices. The narratives and places focused on in these pseudoarchaeological comics also emphasize the colonial heritage and contemporary practices of our discipline. This argument is primarily examined in relation to the author's own work on the historical, colonial narratives of Hehe Chief Mkwawa from the Iringa Region, Tanzania - a narrative that has local and national significance which has also been retold in comic book form. Additional comic texts are presented as examples of how this medium of science communication can be effectively and ethically utilized.

Cite this Record

Comics, Colonialism, & Pseudoarchaeology: The Case of "La Crane de Mkwawa". Katie Biittner. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452504)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 24.082; min lat: -26.746 ; max long: 56.777; max lat: 17.309 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24523