Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


CfP: Workshop on Transplanetary Ecologies

23 January 2023

7th June - Centre for Outer Space Studies, University College London (UK). Deadline for abstracts: 28th February 2023

paint swirl, like a planet

Continuous human presence in Low Earth Orbit, increasing expansion of techno-scientific infrastructures beyond Earth, and the extractivist ambitions of the commercial 'New Space' sector call for a reconsideration of the conventional analytical frameworks used to describe emergent (extra)terrestrial political, ecological, and social processes. On these accelerating investments, Vidmar has stated “the interplay between natural and social phenomena in the highly contested yet vastly open-ended Universe gave rise to an ecology of (trans)planetary systems – biological, technological and intellectual” (Vidmar, 2020, EASST.net). More multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary research is needed to account for these emerging transplanetary ecologies.

The Transplanetary Ecologies workshop will interrogate this emerging paradigm, asking questions such as: how do the various infrastructures of space science exact their own ecological tolls?  What do increasing calls for space sustainability mean in practice? How do contemporary configurations of (neo)colonial power, engendered by progress-oriented visions of contemporary space industries, shape our understanding of extraterrestrial environments? What forms of (trans)planetary ecologies are needed to account for the imaginaries, materialities and entanglements wrought by space science? How can our scholarship encompass these long promised cosmic futures and fast approaching space-based realities? 

This workshop is open to all, with a particular focus on platforming the work of postgraduate students and Early Career Researchers from all disciplines. We envision this workshop will support new and experimental methodologies, and become an important opportunity for space studies researchers, from across the humanities and sciences, to build long-term networks. 

Themes include (but are not limited to):

  • Extreme environments 
  • Environmental imaginaries of space
  • Space habitats and forms of habitation, communities on/off Earth
  • Space infrastructures
  • Space weather
  • Political economy of space industries
  • Decolonising space science, (neo)colonialism and decolonisation in space industries
  • Environmental justice and activism relating to space
  • The aesthetics of space, as represented in science fiction and/or space science. 
  • Ethics and the contemporary space sector
  • Space science, multispecies entanglements and the more-than-human

We are open to single paper presentations, posters, creative interventions, roundtables, performances and other forms of academic and/or artistic outputs. To participate, please send an abstract (max 300 words + 50 words author bio) to transplanetaryecologies@gmail.com by 28th February 2023. Selection results will be communicated by 5th March 2023. Preference will be for in-person attendance although some virtual participation will be possible. To make in-person attendance more viable, we have a small travel budget. Please let us know if you would like to be considered for this fund. Lunch will be provided, please flag if you have any dietary requirements. 

We want to support you as much as possible. Please email us if you have any questions or would like guidance on writing your proposal etc. 

Organisers: Rachel Hill and Makar Tereshin on behalf of the Centre for Outer Space Studies (COSS). 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. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/institute-of-advanced-studies/centre-outer-space-studies 

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