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Accepted Paper:

Notes for a Black Hole Ethnography  
Ségolène Guinard (McGill University)

Paper Short Abstract:

In this paper, we will wander across scales and images, exploring a landscape where Black holes, pines, fungi, stray dogs, sheep, and mountains, invite us to observe how relationships across social, epistemic and material spheres that are alien to one another, are being done and undone.

Paper Abstract:

My research centres on a telescope built in Central Mexico. While attempting to trace how the shapes and existence of black holes crystallize out of the astronomers’ practices, I found myself within a web of stories connecting estranged forms of life in and around the telescope. In this paper, we will wander across scales and images, in a landscape where Black holes, pines, fungi, stray dogs, sheep, and mountains, invite us to follow how relationships across social, epistemic and material spheres that are alien to one another, are being done and undone. On the Pico de Orizaba, overseeing the telescope, a dog named Citla has been honoured with a tombstone adorned with plastic flowers, candles and offerings of different kinds. The cherished dog, as stories go, came as a puppy with workers building the telescope and escaped to the neighbouring mountain; she had always lived there since, her body adapting to the altitude, and she had saved climbers from getting lost trying to reach the summit. How can non-humans become guides directing our attention amidst troubled landscapes, cosmological models, complex engineering and politics? This paper is an invitation to outline a speculative ethnography that seeks to come to terms with the outcomes and (cosmo)politics of astronomy, and the need to nurture connections in a troubled world. What does it mean to write as if more-than-humans were the ones threading relations of knowledge, care, extraction, predation, or indifference?

Panel P196
Uncertain methods, elusive lives: exploring the methodological and relational horizons of doing research with more-than-humans
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -