Accepted Paper:

Playa Bagdad / SpaceX: Sound, Necropolitics, and the Industrialization of Space  
Jerónimo Reyes-Retana (Colorado University Boulder)

Paper short abstract:

Through a practice-based research mode, Reyes-Retana examines a transboundary phenomenon of acoustic violence that draws attention to an intricate site, wherein the complexities of the US-Mexico border intersect with the rising infrastructure of outer-space industrialization.

Paper long abstract:

This article looks through the lens of speculation at a scenario connecting the US-Mexico border complexities with the industrialization of outer space. Based on an art-oriented and multifaceted research process including fieldwork and conversations with Playa Bagdad’s residents, the scrutiny of SpaceX environmental impact assessments, and attendance to several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) public hearings; this compilation of ideas investigates the subjectivities intrinsic to the coexistence of Playa Bagdad (Tamaulipas, MX) and SpaceX (Texas, US) through the social and political implications of sound.

In this scenario, the noise produced by the launchers’ engines will not only act as mobilizing force resonating in the form of intense acoustic shock waves with the capacity of affecting materiality —including the biosphere and the body—, but as a cultural weapon nurturing an already existing ecology of fear. All of this amid a hybrid geography where the radical asymmetries of neoliberal policies fuel a regime built upon necropolitics which intersect with the rising infrastructure of space exploration.

Ironically, the confrontation between Playa Bagdad and SpaceX remains in silence, as an under-seen techno-political spectacle in which a community lacking political recognition stands in the front row to witness passively the consolidation of an economic zone that promises to delimitate a new cosmological dimension; one perpetuating the validation of progress, exclusively, through hyper-technological advancement.

Panel R05
The limits of observation: ethnofiction and documentary horizons
  Session 1 Friday 10 March, 2023, -