National Geographic ignores ethical considerations yet again

In recent years National Geographic has been knowingly contributing to the destruction of archaeological sites through their TV programming.  The original Diggers show, which is a reality program depicting a team of relic hunters in the United States, aired despite serious concerns from professional archaeologists.  The measures NatGeoTV took to present these concerns as valid were insufficient.  Diggers still promotes looting, lacks diverse perspectives, and contributes to continual misunderstanding of archaeological science.  The latest incarnation, Nazi War Diggers, goes even further into the territory of glorified grave robbing.  The hosts of the show have no training in bioarchaeology, physical anthropology, or forensics and are shown to have little understanding of how to excavate and handle human remains.  The Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, and National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers have all reached out to NatGeoTV, urging them to not air the show.  Archaeologists around the world have expressed dismay over the utter lack of cultural sensitivity on which these programs thrive, but it is also helpful for those outside the field to protest.  Archaeology is nothing if it does not collaborate with the communities it studies.

So, what can you do?

I would like to say that I expected better from National Geographic, but the reality is that they are a corporation out to exploit culture for money, with natural history only a secondary goal.  The thin veneer of popular science poorly masks their weak ethics when shows such as Nazi War Diggers make it into production.

Learn more about the issues involved by browsing Conflict Antiquities’ Nazi War Diggers tag and Alison Atkin’s letter to National Geographic (UK).

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