Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


HYBRID: Scales and Futures: Simultaneity, Latency, and Ethics Beyond Earth

10 January 2024, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm

lights on earth, from space, credit NASA

The Centre for Outer Space Studies is pleased to welcome David Valentine (University of Minnesota) to give this talk.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students






Institute of Advanced Studies


Daryll Forde Seminar Room and online
UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street,

Outer space, and its unthinkable distances and differences, seems to demand recourse to scale as an analytic or rhetorical device, and inevitably draws scalar and exponential figures into anxious talk about human futures. 

In this paper, I ask how— in the planning for and talk about human settlements in other cosmic places— scale frames what kinds of common (or simultaneous) human futures are possible, on Earth or off, and what becomes of ethics in this context. 

Foregrounding the message latencies introduced by the upper limits of the physical universe (i.e the speed of light), I tentatively explore how the materialities of distance and hostile-to-terrestrial-life conditions of the cosmos may reveal scale as a fundamentally earthbound analytic, one that requires Earth’s stable conditions for its comparative and evaluative work to function. However, I will argue that rather than eviscerating or diminishing the ethical, the latencies introduced by cosmic distances and differences open to vibrant possibilities for thinking about ethics, commonality, difference, simultaneity, and futurity, on Earth and off.

This event will take place online and in-person at UCL. It will be followed by a drinks reception for those attending on campus. Please register at https://coss-scales.eventbrite.co.uk

The Centre for Outer Space Studies (COSS) was founded in 2019 to promote research and teaching related to the social study of Outer Space and our relationship to the cosmos and the planet. The Centre aims to act as a catalyst for serious debate, via talks, exhibitions, film screenings and other events that help us explore the socio-political impact of space science and the wider human relationship to outer space.

About the Speaker

David Valentine

Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of Minnesota

A cultural and linguistic anthropologist with interests in gender, sexuality, US social movements and politics, and conceptions of the future.

More about David Valentine