Accepted paper:

Towards an anthropology of gravity: body and affect in the extra-terrestrial


Aaron Parkhurst (University College London)
David Jeevendrampillai (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

Borrowing from theories within Anthropology, experiments in human cognition, and published evidence from living aboard space-stations, this paper examines the force of Gravity as a profound nexus of social relations, working intimately between the human body and its ability to generate emotion.

Paper long abstract:

The conditions of spaceflight have afforded humans the opportunity to question normative ways in which of human beings orient themselves. This paper argues that ethno-physical conditions of living can be better understood when they are contextualised by the underlying forces that operate subtly throughout them. It draws upon experiences in laboratories that study cognition and motor control in alternative gravitation environments, from artists who play with touch and emotion in microgravity conditions, and from Astronaut and Cosmonaut narratives aboard the MIR space-station to theorise how gravity offers a unique vantage point through which to consider the human body's relationship to emotion, cognition, and the curation of social relations. Drawing upon theorists in the Anthropology of the Body in Movement, it is posited that dynamically embodied action can be understood further through taking seriously the material and physical conditions in which these dynamics are performed.

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Encounters between people, things and environments
Making Outer Space