1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Social Studies of Outer Space

Edited By Juan Francisco Salazar, Alice Gorman Copyright 2023
    540 Pages 1 Color & 45 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    540 Pages 1 Color & 45 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Handbook of Social Studies of Outer Space offers state-of-the-art overview of contemporary social and cultural research on outer space. International in scope, the thirty-eight contributions by over fifty leading researchers and artists across a variety of disciplines and fields of knowledge, present a range of debates and pose key questions about the crafting of futures in relation to outer space. The Handbook is a call to attend more carefully to engagements with outer space, empirically, affectively, and theoretically, while characterizing current research practices and outlining future research agendas. This recalibration opens profound questions of intersectional politics, race, equity, and environmental justice around the contested topics of space exploration and life off-Earth. Among the many themes included in the volume are the various infrastructures, networks and systems that enable and sustain space exploration; space heritage; the ethics of outer space; social and environmental justice; fundamental debates about life in outer space as it pertains to both astrobiology and SETI; the study of scientific communities; the human body and consciousness; Indigenous astronomical systems of Knowledge; contemporary space art; and ongoing critical interventions to overcome the legacies of colonialism and dismantle hegemonic narratives of outer space.

    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 

    Rasheedah Phillips

    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


    Juan Francisco Salazar is an interdisciplinary researcher and documentary filmmaker. He is a 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


    "This volume captures the capacious work and thinking that comes under the title "social studies of outer space." It excels at orienting the reader to the field’s formations and setting an ambitious and welcome vision for future work that embraces the multivocality of the cosmos. The contributing authors creatively and insightfully draw from numerous ontologies and epistemologies to animate what space is and can be. This generates an exciting collection that will no doubt inspire many new avenues of research."

    Lisa Messeri, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University, Author of Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds


    "This ambitious and timely book brings outer space studies into the 21st century, bringing together cutting-edge critical theory with insights from voices marginalized by traditional space studies - voices that speak to the most pressing issues of today and open up genuine alternatives for future relations with earth and other planets. Weaving together issues of power, violence, social and ecological justice and (inter-)planetary crises, it offers newcomers to the field a nuanced understanding of the complexities of engaging with outer space in theory and practice, while experts will benefit from the richness of disciplines, knowledge systems, perspectives and innovative research found throughout its chapters. This book will make a lasting and critical impact on the field for years to come." 

    Audra Mitchell, Professor, Canada Research Chair in Global Political Ecology, Wilfrid Laurier University


    "Outer space is not outside. It is inside. Inside the slipstreams of colonialism, capitalism, and the Cold War. But look to this extraordinary book to find countercurrents of the decolonial, antiracist, and communitarian — zones not of a universal universe, but of possible pluriverses, outside the orbits of cosmography as usual."

    Stefan Helmreich, Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology, MIT


    "Urgent, provocative, inspiring, troubling, and sure to be of enduring significance. With rich discussions of theories, methods, questions and interventions coming from across the social sciences and humanities,this mind-expanding compendium surveys some of the growing terrain of social studies of outer space and offers a robust welcome to newcomers to this vibrant and growing field."

    Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences, University of Delaware


    "Alice Gorman and Juan Francisco Salazar are two of the most interesting and innovative writers and thinkers about outer space. They are legends in this field, both in Australia and internationally, and have inspired so many others to follow their lead in exploring this rich and endlessly fascinating topic. In this Handbook, they have brought together such an extraordinary range of diverse voices and perspectives on space. The publication of this Handbook is a watershed moment for all of us interested in using the social sciences and humanities to craft new approaches to human imaginings and futures in space."

    Ceridwen Dovey


    "This is a welcome contribution to the growing library of the social sciences, arts, and humanities on outer space that provides challenging socio-political perspectives in a field often dominated by narrow technical and bureaucratic histories."

    Bleddyn Bowen, University of Leicester


    "This meticulously curated collection offers critical and creative techniques to think-with space, to learn from earth’s predicaments, and to invent unforeseen modes of planetary habitation. In examining how space is bounded to Earth in the practices of everyday life, the rich and pluriversal space-making interventions presented here act as catalysts for remembering the past and for reinventing our social, cultural, political, and environmental relations."

    Marie-Pier Boucher, Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology, University of Toronto