Infrastructuralizing outer space, un-earthing anthropology

Over the past year I have slowly started working on an ethnographic project around Sweden’s national strategy to increase its infrastructural presence in outer space. I recently outlined my interests in a short text that has now been published in the Swedish anthropology blog antroperspektiv. The text, titled Infrastructuralizing outer space, un-earthing anthropology, is also available as a pdf.

In brief, I’m interested in a renewed, global interest in outer space as an arena for projection, experimentation, and infrastructural possibility, conceived of as able to support and/or limit human existence on the planet. In this short piece, I suggest that these emergent, infrastructurally mediated engagements with the extraterrestrial present a promising site for interrogating some of anthropology’s territorially grounded concepts and categories. Some of the questions I ask are as follows: how do actors work to bring the extraterrestrial down to Earth as an object of governmental and public concern? How do these actors deal with the limits of such translations? What happens to social, political, and environmental relations when confronted by outer space as an infrastructural phenomenon, and how may the implications of such encounters be made to bear upon these fundamentally anthropolitical categories? How might ongoing efforts to infrastructuralize outer space help redescribe anthropological reflexivity’s own terrestrially grounded terms of engagement?

Aurora borealis (norrsken) in northern Sweden. Source: Pikist.