Detoxifying Imaginations of Outer Space

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Toxic imaginations of outer-space are plenty and powerful. Detoxifying them will take creative imagination and solidarity across movements and institutions. 

Eurocentric, settler-colonial, masculinist, and capitalist imaginations of outer-space are what I call toxic imaginations of outer-space. These imaginations see the outer-space as a blank canvas on which to extend and supplant toxic contemporary politics on Earth: a politics of domination and subjugation based on a structural and strategic dispossession of people and creatures based on gender, race, nationality, ability, etc. 

 

Elon Musk’s Space X programs, Mars One, NASA and nation-state based space exploration and colonization programs that range from international space race to nuking Mars are examples of this toxic imagination. 

 

Toxic imagination pervades at the epistemological level, at the research level, and at the political level. My strategy of “detoxification” is thus: I think the epistemological toxicity can be tackled through theorization and historicization; toxicity at the research level can be tackled through ethnography; toxicity at the political level can be tackled through organizing and education. 

 

At the epistemological level, toxicity happens with the systematic denial of indigenous and non-Western ways of knowing, mapping, and understanding outer-space. This narrative begins with the “ancient Greeks” like Aristophanes and Aristotle, and culminates through the stories of Copernicus and Gallileo’s defiance against the Christian church, when they declared that science was independent of God, religion, and culture. 

 

Cultural astronomers and anthropologists of astronomy such as Anthony Aveni, Jarita Holbrook, Lesley Green and David Green have been challenging the assumption that modern science is the only acceptable or accurate method of approximating truth. By ethnographically illustrating the logics of various astronomical observations and theorizations from different cultures and locations, they illustrate that the “way people live has profoundly affected the way they create their understanding of the natural world (2002:16).” Through a contextualization and historicization of the study of astronomy in various cultures and locales, they argue that “it is within the study of human culture that we must place the discoveries of all astronomy, past and even present (2002:9).” Such intervention is very much in line with postcolonial intervention to the study of science and knowledge.    

How do we detoxify imaginations of outer-space? 

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Toxic imaginations of outer-space are plenty and powerful. Detoxifying them will take creative imagination and solidarity across movements and institutions. 

Eurocentric, settler-colonial, masculinist, and capitalist imaginations of outer-space are what I call toxic imaginations of outer-space. These imaginations see the outer-space as a blank canvas on which to extend and supplant toxic contemporary politics on Earth: a politics of domination and subjugation based on a structural and strategic dispossession of people and creatures based on gender, race, nationality, ability, etc. 

 

Elon Musk’s Space X programs, Mars One, NASA and nation-state based space exploration and colonization programs that range from international space race to nuking Mars are examples of this toxic imagination. 

 

Toxic imagination pervades at the epistemological level, at the research level, and at the political level. My strategy of “detoxification” is thus: I think the epistemological toxicity can be tackled through theorization and historicization; toxicity at the research level can be tackled through ethnography; toxicity at the political level can be tackled through organizing and education. 

 

At the epistemological level, toxicity happens with the systematic denial of indigenous and non-Western ways of knowing, mapping, and understanding outer-space. This narrative begins with the “ancient Greeks” like Aristophanes and Aristotle, and culminates through the stories of Copernicus and Gallileo’s defiance against the Christian church, when they declared that science was independent of God, religion, and culture. 

 

Cultural astronomers and anthropologists of astronomy such as Anthony Aveni, Jarita Holbrook, Lesley Green and David Green have been challenging the assumption that modern science is the only acceptable or accurate method of approximating truth. By ethnographically illustrating the logics of various astronomical observations and theorizations from different cultures and locations, they illustrate that the “way people live has profoundly affected the way they create their understanding of the natural world (2002:16).” Through a contextualization and historicization of the study of astronomy in various cultures and locales, they argue that “it is within the study of human culture that we must place the discoveries of all astronomy, past and even present (2002:9).” Such intervention is very much in line with postcolonial intervention to the study of science and knowledge.    

How do we detoxify imaginations of outer-space? 

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Created date

March 9, 2020