The Routledge Handbook of Social Studies of Outer Space  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Social Studies of Outer Space

  • Available for pre-order on June 19, 2023. Item will ship after July 10, 2023
ISBN 9781032248615
July 10, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
560 Pages 1 Color & 45 B/W Illustrations

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USD $270.00

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Book Description

The Routledge Handbook of Social Studies of Outer Space offers a state-of-the-art overview of contemporary social and cultural research on outer space. With over thirty contributions by leading researchers across a variety of disciplines, it explores the question of why and how to study outer space and provides scholars, practitioners and upper-level students with novel perspectives and critical interventions on a wide range of debates. Topics covered include: 

  • Critical social studies of space
  • Space humanities
  • Space imaginaries 
  • Space heritage 
  • Space technologies, systems, and infrastructures
  • Colonialism and decolonisation
  • Race and space
  • Environmental justice and space activism
  • Indigenous astronomical systems of Knowledge 
  • Afrofuturism; Indigenous Futurisms
  • Contemporary space art
  • Scientific communities

The volume reflects on the lineages of conceptualizations and studies of outer space and poses key questions about the crafting of futures in relation to space. In particular, the chapters address a range of themes, such as the study of the human body and consciousness; the various infrastructures, networks and systems that enable and sustain space exploration; the fundamental question of life in outer space both as it pertains to astrobiology, SETI, and the study of human health in spaceflight. Ultimately, the handbook is a call to attend more carefully to the ways in which we engage critically with outer space, both empirically, affectively and theoretically, while characterizing current research practices and outlining future research agendas.

Table of Contents

1. Social Studies of Outer Space: Pluriversal Articulations 

Juan Francisco Salazar and Alice Gorman 

Part 1: Fields 

2. Trilogie Terrestre 

Frédérique Aït-Touati and Bruno Latour 

3. Refielding in More-Than-Terran Spaces 

Valerie A. Olson 

4. Space and Time Through Material Culture: An Account of Space Archaeology 

Alice Gorman

5. Anthropology and Contemporary Space Exploration, with a Note on Hopi Ladders 

Istvan Praet

6. Planetary Ethnography in a "SpaceX Village": History, Borders, and the Work of "Beyond" 

Anna Szolucha

7. The Spaces of Outer Space 

Oliver Dunnett

8. Sociological Approaches to Outer Space 

Paola Castaño and Álvaro Santana-Acuña

9. Space Ethics 

Tony Milligan and James S. J. Schwartz

10. Other Worlds, Other Views: Contemporary Artists and Space Exploration 

Nicola Triscott

Part 2: Intersections and Interventions 

11. As Above, So Below: Space and Race in the Space Race 

Black Quantum Futurism (Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa) 

12. A Chronopolitics of Outer Space: A Poetics of Tomorrowing 

Juan Francisco Salazar 

13. Feminist Approaches to Outer Space: Engagements with Technology, Labour, and Environment 

Réka Patrícia Gál and Eleanor S. Armstrong 

14. The Iconography of the Astronaut as a Critical Enquiry of Space Law 

Saskia Vermeylen 

15. Diversity in Space 

Evie Kendal 

16. Mare Incognito: Live Performance Art Linking Sleep with the Cosmos through Radio Waves 

Daniela de Paulis, Thomas Moynihan, Alejandro Ezquerro-Nassar, and Fabian Schmidt

Part 3: Colonial Histories and Decolonial Futures 

17. Celestial Relations with and as Milŋiyawuy, the Milky Way, the River of Stars 

Bawaka Country, including Dr L. Burarrwanga, Ritjilili Ganambarr, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, et al. 

18. Coloniality and the Cosmos 

Natalie B. Treviño 

19. Safeguarding Indigenous Sky Rights from Colonial Exploitation 

Karlie Noon, Krystal De Napoli, Peter Swanton, et al. 

20. Anishinaabeg in Space 

Deondre Smiles 

21. Earthless Astronomy, Landless Datasets, and the Mining of the Future 

Katheryn M. Detwiler 

22. Reconstellating Astroenvironmentalism: Borders, Parks, and Other Cosmic Imaginaries 

Alessandra Marino 

23. Divergent Extraterrestrial Worlds: Navigating Cosmo-practices on Two Mountaintops in Thailand 

Lauren Reid

Part 4: Objects, Infrastructures, Networks, and Systems 

24. Glitch in Space 

Juan Francisco Salazar 

25. Preparing for the "Internet Apocalypse": Data Centres and the Space Weather Threat

A. R. E. Taylor   

26. Space Infrastructures and Networks of Control and Care 

Katarina Damjanov 

27. Mexico Dreams of Satellites 

Anne W. Johnson 

28. Space Codes: The Astronaut and the Architect 

Fred Scharmen

Part 5: Cultures in Orbit/Life in Space 

29. Cosmic Waters 

Julie Patarin-Jossec

30. Unearthing Biosphere 2, Biosphere 2 as Un·Earthing 

Ralo Mayer

31. Living and Working in "The Great Outdoors": Astronautics as Everyday Work in NASA’s Skylab Programme

Phillip Brooker and Wes Sharrock 

32. Adapting to Space: The International Space Station Archaeological Project 

Justin St. P. Walsh

33. An Ethnography of an Extra-terrestrial Society: The International Space Station 

David Jeevendrampillai, Victor Buchli, Aaron Parkhurst, et al. 

34. Plant Biologists and the International Space Station: Institutionalising a Scientific Community 

Paola Castaño

35. Whiteboards, Dancing, Origami, Debate: The Importance of Practical Wisdom for Astrophysicists and Instrument Scientists 

Fionagh Thomson

36. Understanding the Question of Whether to Message Extraterrestrial Intelligence 

Chelsea Haramia

37. Astrobiology and the Immanence of Life amidst Uncertainty 

Dana Burton 

38. A Post-Geocentric Gravitography of Human Culture

Alice Gorman

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Juan Francisco Salazar is a researcher and documentary filmmaker. He is Professor of Communications, Media and Environment at Western Sydney University, Australia.

Alice Gorman is an archaeologist and heritage consultant. She is an Associate Professor at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.


It’s rare that one sees a handbook about humanity’s relationship with, and activities in outer space, that goes beyond a few widely discussed themes focussed on science, technology, economics, law or geopolitics. Yet, as this unique collection of different perspectives clearly shows, space is so multi-faceted and touches every person on the planet. To see in one book the many other diverse ‘voices’ on space – from indigenous, to anthropological, to spiritual, to archaeological, to aesthetic, just to name a few – allows us to begin to comprehend the true ‘wonder’ of space and recalibrate our thinking about our responsibilities to respect and protect space for the future generations. A wonderful book co-edited by two amazing thought leaders about the future of humanity and its place in the galaxy around us.

Emeritus Professor Steven Freeland

Western Sydney University & Bond University

Vice-Chair of UNCOPUOS Working Group on Legal Aspects of Space Resource Activities