ComSciCon 2015: Let’s Talk About Death!

For ComSciCon, we had the option of sharing interesting projects or research related to communicating science. I decided to make a poster about how we can use popular media to create interesting discussions about archaeological work- specifically related to death and funerary rituals.

You can check out my full size poster here: Let’s Talk About Death!


Abstract: Popular media has long sensationalized archaeological discoveries for their own benefit; touting stories of witches, vampires and deviant practices. As anthropologists, it is important that we correct these misconceptions and share the interpretations that led to these sensationalized conclusions; but there is also a lesson that we can learn from this. The public has an intense interest in mortuary archaeology – stories about unusual burial practices and fascinating new cemeteries have captured the public’s attention for hundreds of years. While I don’t suggest we dismiss or exaggerate the evidence to gain attention, we can use the popular appeal for the unusual to open a dialogue with the public and reveal the true nature of the archaeological evidence. In this presentation, I will discuss how we as bloggers can leverage the sensational nature of popular media to engage the public and further real archaeological work that lies behind these unique discoveries, using my blog, Bones Don’t Lie, as a case study. This is especially relevant for mortuary archaeology and studies of the dead, since death is increasingly medicalized and taboo in our Western society. By discussing mortuary archaeology in an accessible and open manner, we open the door for more meaningful dialogues about archaeological evidence and the real behavior that created these unusual mortuary contexts.

5 responses to “ComSciCon 2015: Let’s Talk About Death!

  1. An exceptional infographic and discussion here Katie you are talented. I have some family and friends who embrace these sort of ‘Daily Mail’crappy headlines about aliens, vampires and such like so this is going to be shown to them for sure!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. I work with students and teachers on literacy related issues, and this would be a great way to get students thinking about how media is used/misused as a way to talk about real science.

  3. Pingback: pauseRReport: June 2015 | thepauser·

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