University of Toronto, Mississauga
May 7-8, 2020
Space exploration mediates how societies envision their future and space exploration would not be possible without media. More obviously, the history of space exploration is closely tied to Cold War military and economic imperatives. Today, established space agencies are struggling with national funding, and numerous countries are starting ambitious space programs, and private companies and individuals are building innovative space plans and technologies. The current socio-political configuration offers thinkers and practitioners new opportunities by which to intervene in how we envision and inhabit the cosmos. Media Theory, Media Fiction, and Infrastructures Beyond the Earth is a two-day workshop May 7-8, 2020 at University of Toronto, Mississauga that will investigate space exploration and inhabitation from the point of view of media studies.
Because media infrastructures are outer space’s condition, media scholars and practitioners are uniquely equipped to critically engage with the debates and issues surrounding the anthropological, social and political implications of space exploration. Outer space is a field of activity conditioned by the tools, artifacts, devices, and dispositives of media studies, revealing that humanity’s relationship with the cosmos is a mediated one: we rely on satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) for communication as well as for health and environmental monitoring and planning; on Geo Positioning Satellite (GPS) for navigation; on space travel apparatuses for the development of methods of storage and transportation of information, bodies, and goods; on tele-communication devices for interplanetary transmission; on the tools of media archeology for data sampling; on the tools of media geology for mining and extraction; and on the tools of information sciences for data processing and visualization. Outer space is a site of both potential inhabitation and politics in which medium design plays a crucial role.
Today, as we face growing concerns about the future of human survival on Earth, we have to rethink our relationship to technology, land, population, property, resource extraction, and environmental management. Even more critically, as space exploration is being envisioned and imagined as a continuation of older logics – military, colonial, capitalist, sexist, classist, racist, ableist – we have to ask what kinds of theory, analysis, methods, techniques, and ethics are needed to critically inhabit the cosmos?
This workshop will bring together media, information and communication scholars, and students working on outer space and communications infrastructure as well as academics, writers, and thinkers researching science and science fictions, as well as Afrofuturism and Indigenous futures. It will seek to formulate propositions on how media scholars and practitioners can provide noteworthy interventions into the current and future debates around space exploration and inhabitation.
We especially welcome proposals from graduate students that propose innovative questions addressing, but not limited to, the following themes:
- Political economy of New Space companies
- Media infrastructure in outer space, e.g. satellite imaging
- Outer space and waste management
- Architecture in outer space, e.g. design of space colonies
- Media geology, land, and extractivism of outer space, e.g. asteroid mining
- Outer space and multimedia ethnography
- Outer space and the future of wearable technologies
- Media archeology and planetary histories
- Outer space, journalism, and media representations
- Militarization of outer space
- Media ecologies, ecosystems and ecological colonization of space
- Outer space and futures of marginalized groups
- Outer space, robots, and transhumanism
- Extraterrestrial and artificial intelligence
- Media, space and war
We foresee this event as a collective think tank to reflect on the contribution of media scholars and practitioners to the future of space exploration. We wish to create the conditions for constructive dialogue and collective enunciation. We are thus especially keen on proposals that emerge from struggles of thought and work in progress, and which formulate questions and invite dialogue rather than offering fully articulated propositions.
Graduate students and media practitioners are welcome to submit (1) an abstract (max. 250 words) of their planned contribution; (2) a question they would like to be addressed at the workshop and (3) a short biographical profile (max. 100 words) to email@example.com, by February 15.
Limited funds to aid graduate student travel and accommodation are available. Please indicate it in your submission email if you require funding for travel or accommodation!
Confirmed speakers include:
Kathryn Denning (York University)
Nalo Hopkinson (sci-fi author, Cal State Riverside)
Lisa Parks (MIT)
Lisa Ruth Rand (Science History Institute)
Chris Russill (Carleton University)
Fred Scharmen (Morgan State University)
Gerry William (sci-fi author)
Karen Lord (author of speculative fiction and sociologist of religion)
Reka Patricia Gal