IAS Junior Research Fellows Dr Aline-Florence Manent and Dr David Jeevendrampillai are researching this theme.
This theme is open to the widest possible interpretation and is assumed to address the concerns of many disciplines and departments while providing a frame for thinking across or even bypassing entrenched or established modes of thinking. It could include the following concerns:
- The planetary, the international, the cosmopolitan and the global, competing definitions and differences in the imagining of futures
- Debates on the anthropocene as a species-focused and earth-bound framework for thinking
- Questions of difference and the particular in relation to the planetary scope of anthropocentric discourse, the post-colonial, feminist and queer potential for thinking the 'planetary' against the grain of universalising narratives
- The implications of the decentring of terrestrial privilege assumed natural in human understanding
- Questioning extra-terrestrial dwelling and post-planetary worlding to see if it opens up a space for the renegotiation of classic earth-bound divisions
- Issues of national sovereignty and territoriality, polarities and divisions, borders and boundaries in imaging/imagining novel worlds
- Technologies of the future as invented now and in the past: forms of measuring, mapping, representing and coding images/texts that encompass a vision of the future
- Narrative, fiction and fantasy in the adumbration of planetary futures
- Cosmologies and cosmic construction - the fabrication/fabulation of alternative world structures through art, literature and imaginative projection
- The history of futurity, the history of notions of the future, including but not only a history of science fiction
- The production of image worlds; technologies of vision; the militarisation of space; climate change and representation
- The earth without us, the post-human, fear of the future, catastrophic futures, imagination, prophecy, narratives of individual and/or collective survival, apocalypse
We are pleased to share an invitation to this workshop on the theme of 'Planetary Poetics'. To be held from 21-23 September 2017 in collaboration with the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney. This three-day event will investigate the paradigm of the planetary, understood variously in terms of aesthetics, affectivity, geophysical systems, political community, materiality, and technology. Over the course of the three days we will be hosting several panels, talks, screenings and an exciting programme of public events.
Planetary Poetics brings together a group of specialists from different disciplines to debate and consider a variety of critical, theoretical and creative approaches to the idea of the 'planetary', exploring the nonhuman, the post-human and humanism; singularity, the universal and the limits of cosmopolitical thought; animal studies and ecocriticism; affect, new materialism and the politics of representation; 'nature', earthly finitude and speculative realism. Each of these themes addresses planetary (and extra planetary) narratives, imaginations, experiences and worldings, and their relationships with the fractal figure of the human. Throughout the poetic and the aesthetic will be explored as means through which to engage with, dramatize and produce new knowledge about our relationship to the planetary.
Register for the Keynote Lecture here.
Register for the workshop sessions here.
Register for the premiere of Village Versus Empire (2016) here.
Confirmed Speakers: Andrew Barry (Department of Geography, UCL), Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht University and Distinguished Visiting Researcher at the IAS), Ute Eickelkamp (Sydney Environment Institute), Ann Elias (Sydney Environment Institute), Briony Fer (History of Art, UCL), Tamar Garb (History of Art and the Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL), Jennifer Hamilton (Sydney Environment Institute), Rye Holmboe (History of Art, UCL), Tariq Jazeel (Department of Geography, UCL) Julia Jordan (Department of English, UCL), Iain McCalman (Sydney Environment Institute), Cat Moir (Sydney Environment Institute), Florian Mussgnug (School of European Languages, Culture and Society, UCL), Astrida Neimanis (Sydney Environment Institute), Mignon Nixon (History of Art, UCL), Killian Quigley (Sydney Environment Institute), Peg Rawes (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen (The School of European Languages & Culture, UCL) and Kirsten Wehner (Sydney Environment Institute).
For more information please contact Jennifer Shearman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
An epochal 'move to space' (Olivier 2015) has been articulated by various commentators as a crucial historical turn for all mankind, from Sputnik, through the Apollo missions to the recent realigning of NASA's primary mission from Space Exploration to Space Settlement (Augustine Commission 2009). The effect of images of Earth from Space has produced 'globe talk' (Lazier 2011:606) where horizons of social worlds are now planetary in scale. These universalising rhetorics nonetheless also hide the hegemony of normative frames of reference used to define humanity's 'final frontier', along with the concept of 'humanity' itself.
David Valentine (2012) describes how Space demarks a spatial edge used to distinguish the limits of the globe, which can be both revealed and transcended by techno-science. Space exploration then, is able to act as an 'empty signifier' (Ibid) holding the promise of a spatial fix to the future of humanity whilst simultaneously delimiting this same future as it masks the endurance of the forms of relations it claims to transcend. As Debbora Battaglia suggests, the figure of the extra-terrestrial is a symptom of failures to critically understanding the conditions of social life (2005:9), perhaps symptomatic of an inability to conceive of an adequate 'constitutive outside' (Butler 1993), which is often a euphemism for a political or social 'other'.
The binary that extra-terrestrial implies may thus also be contested ethnographically. For example, Suzanne Blier (1987) has observed how dwellings of the Batammaliba track the passage of celestial ancestors through various light apertures whilst Lisa Messeri (2016) notes how Mongolian shamans have been visiting space for many years. Authors such as Alice Gorman (2005), Peter Redfield (2002) and others note how the local world of Space Centres, rocket launch sites or telescopes assume 'translocal', often neo-colonial, dreams (Redfield 2002:808) effacing local concerns. And whilst Soviets and Americans positioned Space as a location to enact utopian futures, different kinds of utopian ideological expansions may also occur through modern space narratives in places such as Ghana, China and Brazil.
What can we make of the new space race ethnographically? How would the consideration of relations between earth and off-earth life enable a fruitful theoretical development of social science enquiry? And, ultimately, in what ways can Anthropology think through the political, the material and the transcendent dimensions of an epochal turn to Space? In this workshop we will investigate the heuristic devices used in the creation of new forms of connectedness and separation that a relation with the extra-terrestrial could enable.
Planetary Futures Seminar Series
What is the future of the planet? Whether the impending ecological crisis, the movement of hegemonic ideological socio-political realms or the techno-scientific promises of life on mars, Planetary Futures engages a broad range of disciplines. This seminar series will generate dialogue across disciplines and we invite participation from all who have interest in the planetary, whether as a scale of inquiry or an object of study. The talks will be of interest to those in the social sciences, particularly Anthropology, Sociology, History, Politics, STS, Geography as well as the Sciences, particularly Physics, Astronomy, Geology and Space Science. The goal is also to spur a reflection among the broader interested public on the construction of planetary imaginaries and interrogate our current academic apparatus for thinking about planetary futures.
The Series will open on 26 January 2017 with a lecture from Nahum Mantra on the role of art and the imagination in space exploration.
Nahum is an artist, musician and curator. He curates KOSMICA, an international festival for earth-bound artists, space engineers and artists, and is co-ordinator for ITACUSS (International Astronautical Federation's Technical Committee on the Cultural Utilization of Space).
Each session will start with a guest lecture from an invited speaker, followed by a plenary discussion and Q&A.
All are welcome to attend.
Unless otherwise specified, seminars take place in the IAS Common Ground (Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building).
- Thursday 26 January 2017 (5-7pm): Nahum Mantra (Kosmica & ITACUSS)
- Thursday 9 February 2017 (5-7pm): Jill Stuart (LSE)
- Wednesday 22 March 2017 (5-7pm): Allen Abramson (UCL) (IAS Seminar Room 20, First Floor, South Wing)
- Wednesday 26 April 2017 (5-7pm): Or Rosenboim (Cambridge)
- Wednesday 10 May 2017 (5-7pm): Mira Siegelberg (Queen Mary University)
Image Credit: "blue marble" NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli (via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/7Gc6C3)
Planetary Futures Reading Group
Envisioning Planetary Futures: From the Apollo Mission to SpaceX
What is the future of the Planet? How is it envisioned and constructed? Does it lie in outer-space, on other planets, or does and should it remain intrinsically tied to Earth? The Planetary is an emerging focus of critical enquiry that bridges traditionally entrenched disciplinary divides across the humanities and social sciences. The Planetary is a central yet under-theorised aspect of a wide array of research engaging with the socio-political histories of the Anthropocene, the techno-scientific and intellectual imaginaries of interplanetary futures, or reflections on global warming and impending ecological crises.
Convened by Aline-Florence Manent and David Jeevendrampillai at the Institute of Advanced Studies, this informal reading group will meet fortnightly to discuss critical literature and future research directions in this exciting area of study. We invite participation from across the disciplines particularly (but not limited to) Anthropology, History, Sociology, Philosophy, Geography, History of Art, Architecture, Geology, Space Science, Astronomy, Physics and Biology.
The readings will be set by the attendees and from emergent discussions. Light refreshments will be provided.
We invite interested participants to attend our introductory welcome meeting on Thursday 26 January 2017 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm.
All are welcome.
Location: IAS Common Ground, First Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
Photo Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center - "Sun Primer" (via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/dNWFvz)
Planetary Futures Conference
Join us for this Planetary Futures conference to be held at the Institute of Advanced Studies on 1 June 2017. The year 2016 further discredited the notion that Western democratic societies have reached the end of history. At a time when liberal democracy seems to be resting on ever more precarious foundations this conference seeks to spur an interdisciplinary conversation about the manifold ways in which political futures can and have been imagined. How have people in the past envisioned the future of democracy? What might be learned from these intellectual imaginaries for our political futures? Where and how are democratic futures reinvented and built today?
This conference aims to build on current work that highlights the historicity and plurality of democracy - whether as an idea, a political regime, or a practice. We particularly welcome contributions that explore the construction of democratic imaginaries beyond the strictly political realm, for instance through moral, aesthetic, scientific or commercial enterprises.
This conference is organised by the Planetary Futures research group at UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies. We are therefore keen to bring together scholars from a wide array of disciplinary and methodological commitments whose work might address the planetary or inter-planetary as an object of study or as a scale of inquiry.
Papers might address any one of these or related topics:
- The stakes of adopting the planetary, the international, the cosmopolitan and/or the global as scales of inquiry
- Competing definitions and scalar differences in the imagining of political futures
- Issues of national sovereignty and territoriality, polarities and divisions, borders and boundaries in imaging or imagining the futures of democracy
- To what extent does space exploration invite us to challenge central categories of political thinking (such as the state, sovereignty, the people, etc.)? How does it spur us to rethink traditional notions of democratic governance?
- The political implications of new technologies and technologies of the future as invented now and in the past: forms of measuring, mapping, representing, coding, sharing and disseminating information that encompass a vision of the future or that have the power to shape our political and socio-economic future
- Political, moral, aesthetic, techno-scientific or commercial representations and constructions of democratic futures as planet-wide endeavours
- The history of futurity, the history of notions of the future, including but not only the history of science fiction as socio-political imaginaries
- Fear of the future as a politically potent emotion; apocalypse and catastrophic visions of the future; narratives of individual and/or collective survival and the endurance of democracy
Call for Papers
Applications should include:
Title of proposed paper
- Abstract (maximum 500 words)
- Contact information
Please send your application as a single PDF by March 31, 2017 to: email@example.com
For further queries, please contact: