Critical Geographies of Outer Space: The Democratization and (de)Politicization of Non-Earth Places

Type: Paper
Theme: Public Engagement in Geography
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon B2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Organizers: Daniel Bednar, Julie Klinger
Chairs: Daniel Bednar


Dear Colleagues,

Building upon panels on the Geographies of Outer Space held over the past three Annual Meetings of the Association of American Geographers, we again wish to bring together critical geographers interested in non-Earth spaces.

In accordance with one the major themes of this year’s AAG meeting, ‘Public Engagement in Geography’, this paper session is particularly interested in perspectives which address the intersection of non-earth spaces and public engagement. Specifically, we are inviting contributions which explore the democratization and (de)politicization of non-earth places and related technologies.

As discussed in previous panels, human endeavors are extending many of the most central issues in geography—property rights and enclosures, place making, the politics of knowledge production, and questions of pollution and conservation, inter alia—to places beyond our terrestrial home. The engagement of off-Earth spaces by the public as well as by practitioners in the fields of aerospace engineering, communications, planetary exploration, and warfare (amongst others) take place within varied sets of discourses and values that merit timely and crucial scholarly attention.

To this point, Outer Space as both a place, and space, of human endeavor has yet to emerge as a major sub-field of geography, despite its importance in everyday life. With paper sessions and networking over the past several years in the US and the UK, the organizers of this session wish to continue the productive dialogue amongst outer space geographers.

The 2018 meeting of this growing group of critical outer space geographers will also serve as a preview of a forthcoming special issue on the critical geopolitics of outer space, which emerged from last year’s conference.

Danny Bednar, Department of Geography, Western University.
Julie Michelle Klinger, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University.

Selected References: (Beery 2012, Parks and Schwoch 2012, Redfield 2001, Dickens and Ormrod 2016, Macdonald 2007, Dunnett 2016, Messeri 2016, Klinger 2017, Lane 2010, Olson 2012, O'Leary and Capelotti 2015)
Beery, Jason. 2012. "State, Capital and Spaceships: A Terrestrial Geography of Space Tourism." Geoforum 43 (1):25-34.
Dickens, P, and J Ormrod, eds. 2016. The Palgrave Handbook of Society, Culture, and Outer Space. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dunnett, Oliver. 2016. "Geopolitical cultures of outer space: The British Interplanetary Society, 1933 - 1965." Geopolitics 22 (2):452 - 473.
Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2017. Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Lane, K. M. D. 2010. Geographies of Mars: Seeing and Knowing the Red Planet. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Macdonald, Fraser. 2007. "Anti-Astropolitik: Outer Space and the Orbit of Geography." Progress in Human Geography 31 (5):592-615.
Messeri, Lisa Rebecca. 2016. Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
O'Leary, Beth Laura, and P.J. Capelotti, eds. 2015. Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space. New York: Springer.
Olson, VA. 2012. "Political Ecology in the Extreme: Asteroid Activism and the Making of an Environmental Solar System." Anthropological Quarterly 58 (4):1027 - 1044.
Parks, L., and J. Schwoch, eds. 2012. Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries, and Cultures. New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press.
Redfield, Peter. 2001. Space in the Tropics: From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Daniel Bednar Western University 20 5:20 PM
Presenter Megan Rose O'Kane*, Queen's University Belfast, The Ludic Geopolitics of Extraterrestrial Videogame Spaces 20 5:40 PM
Presenter Rory Rowan*, University of Zurich, The NewSpace State: The Commercial Space Sector & State Formation in Outer Space 20 6:00 PM
Discussant Julie Klinger Boston University 20 6:20 PM

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