Ufology: The Origins of a “Science” in Popular Culture

  • Nina Kulenović Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Keywords:
ufology, popular culture, sciencelike discourse, ideas about aliens, anthropology, culture and perception

Abstract

The paper indentifies pop-cultural precursors to contemporary ufology, an unusual amalgamation of beliefs, conceptions and ideas, based on ontologically officially inexistent phenomena. The focus of the paper is on the socio-cultural context which enabled the constitution and/or transformation of the contingent semantic matrix which would interpret “strange phenomena in the sky” as alien aircraft. By contextualizing ufology within the framework of popular culture on the shoulders of which it initially stood, I will shed light on the political, ideological and ethical climate in which the initial UFO discourse emerged. The trail for further ufological research was opened by pointing out that pop-culture – in the age of dwindling trust in official institutions which is symptomatic of the second half of the 20th century, as well as the dismantling of the idea of science as a value-neutral and objective way of looking at reality – had already paved the way for a pseudoscientific/sciencelike discourse like ufology to strive to constitute itself as a “science more scientific than science itself”, and as “more objective than the objective”. In other words, as a epistemologically valid, methodologically standardized, institutionally grounded, fiscally viable and ethically superior scientific discipline.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Anderson, Pia. 2000. „Ancient Astronauts“. U: James R. Lewis (ed.), UFOs and Popular Culture: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth, 20–25. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Bartholomew, Robert E. 1991. The Quest for Transcendence: An Ethnography of UFOs in America. Anthropology of Consciousness 2: 1–12.

Beek, Walter E. A. van. 1991. Dogon Restudied: A Field Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule. Current Anthropology 33 (2): 139–147.

Brinkley, Alan. 2009. The Great Depression. The Tocqueville Review 30 (2): 105–121.

Bullard, Thomas E. 1982. Mysteries in the Eye of the Beholder: UFOs and Their Correlates as a Folkloristic Theme Past and Present. PhD Diss. Indiana University.

Carroll, Michael. 1977. Of Atlantis and Ancient Astronauts: A Structural Study of Two Modern Myths. Journal of Popular Culture 2 (3): 541–550.

Clark, Jerome (ed.) 2000. Extraordinary Encounters: An Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrials and Otherworldly Beings. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Crowe, Michael J. 1997. A History of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 32 (2): 147–162.

Ćirković, Milan M. 2009. Artefakt za svemirsko putovanje. Smederevo: Heliks.

Dewan, William J. 2006. A Saucerful of Secret: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of UFO Experiences. Journal of American Folklore 119: 184–202.

Déigh, Linda. 1977. UFOs and How Folklorist Should Look at Them. Fabula 18 (3/4): 242–248.

Đorđević, Jelena (ur.) 2008. Studije kulture. Beograd: Službeni glasnik.

Drees, Williem B. 2002. ’Playing the God? Yes!’ Religion in the Light of Technology. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 37 (3): 643–654.

Feder, Kenneth L. 1999. Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology. Mountain View: Mayfield Pub. Co.

Franklin, Sarah. 1995. Science as Culture, Cultures of Science. Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 163–184.

Gardner, Martin. 1957. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. New York: Dover Publications.

Hendershot, Cyndy. 1997. The Atomic Scientist, Science Fiction Films and Paranoia. Journal of American Culture 20 (1): 31–41.

Houtman, Dick & Mascini, Peter. 2002. Why Do Churches Become Empty, while New Age Grows? Journal of Scientific Study of Religion 41 (3): 455–473.

Hynek, Allen J. 1972. The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co.

Kaveney, Roz. 2005. From Alien to the Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film. New York: I. B. Tauris & Company.

Keel, John A. 1975. Flying Saucer Subculture. Journal of Popular Culture 8 (4): 871–896.

Keely, Brian L. 1999. Of Conspiracy Theories. The Journal of Philosophy 96:(1): 109–126.

Kellner, Douglas. 2003. Media Spectacle. London: Routledge.

Kovač, Senka i Miloš Milenković. 2006. Ponovljene studije u antropologiji. Antropologija 2: 89–109.

Lewis, James R. (ed.) 2000. UFOs and Popular Culture: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Mann, Katrina. 2004. You’re Next! Postwar Hegemony Besieged in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Cinema Journal 44 (1): 49–68.

McDonald, James. 1969. Science in Default: Twenty-Two Years of Inadequate UFO Investigations. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 134th Meeting, General Symposium, University of Arizona. Dostupno na http://dewoody.net/ufo/Science_in_Default.html

Michaud, Michael A. G. 2006. Contact with Alien Civilization: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials. New York: Springer.

Milenković, Miloš. 2003. Problem etnografski stvarnog: Polemika o Samoi u krizi etnografskog realizma. Beograd: Srpski genealoški centar.

Milenković, Miloš. 2010. Istorija postmoderne antropologije:Intertemporalna heterarhija. Beograd: Odeljenje za etnologiju i antropologiju Filozofskog fakulteta u Beogradu i Srpski genealoški centar.

Palmer, Susan J. 2004. Aliens Adored. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Reece, Gregory L. 2007. UFO Religion: Inside Flying Saucer Cults and Culture. New York: I.B.Tauris.

Reece, Katherine. 2006. „Memoirs of a True Believer“. U: Archaeological Fantasies, Gareth G. Fagan (ed.), 96–106. London: Routledge.

Ridpath, Ian. 1978. Investigating the Sirius ‘Mystery., The Skeptical Inquirer 3 (1): 56-62.

Rojcewicz, Peter M. 1987. The ‘Men in Black’ Experience and Tradition: Analogues with the Traditional Devil Hypothesis. The Journal of American Folklore 100 (396):148–160.

Saliba, John A. 2003. Understanding New Religious Movements. Oxford: AltaMira Press.

Sinani, Danijel. 2010a. NLO religije – počeci i glavni oblici. Etnoantropološki problemi n.s. 5 (1): 120–139.

Sinani, Danijel. 2010b. Tehnologija. Teozofija. Teologija: religijski karakter NLO pokreta. Etnoantropološki problemi 5 (3): 118–131.

Sinani, Danijel. 2010c. Flying but Unidentified! A Brief Introduction to UFO Phenomena. Antropologija 10 (1): 9–26.

Sinđelić Svetozar. 1986. Konvegentni realizam i uspeh nauke. Filozofska istraživanja, god. 6, 18 (13): 713–728.

Sinđelić, Svetozar. 2009. Stara i nova slika nauke. Theoria 52: 5–35.

Smoodin, Eric. 1988. Watching the Skies: Hollywood, the 1950s and the Soviet Threat. Journal of American Culture 11 (2): 35–40.

Stark, Rodney. 1999. Secularization, R.I.P. Sociology of Religion 60 (3): 249–273.

Steinmeyer, Jim. 2008. Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural. Tarcher.

Swatos William H Jr. & Christiano, Kelvin J. 1999. Secularization Theory: The Course of the Concept. Sociology of Religion 60 (3): 209–228.

Vallée, Jacques. 1979. Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults. Brisbane: Daily Grail.

Vizzini, Bryan E. 2009. Cold War Fears, Cold War Passions: Conservatives and Liberals Square Off in 1950s Science Fiction. Quarterly Review of Film and Video 26: 28–39.

Žikić, Bojan. 2010. Antropološko proučavanje popularne culture. Etnoantrpološki problemi n.s.. 5 (1): 17–39.
Published
2012-05-10