Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

Where African studies and outer space meet. Astronomy infrastructure in South Africa and Madagascar  
Hanna Nieber (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology) Davide Chinigò (Università per stranieri di Perugia)

Paper short abstract:

We explore how the scientific imagination behind recent global infrastructures in space science in South Africa and Madagascar is entangled with postcolonial histories and practices that produce and destabilize Africa and Outer space as epistemic objects, generating new tensions and possibilities.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, space science has become a thriving field in Africa. Research programmes and telescopes on African grounds, wired into global infrastructures of knowledge and data, are increasingly contributing to new astronomical insights that cover “new grounds” and extend the “frontiers” of what is already known about our cosmos and our planet’s place within it. With striking parallels to European colonization of Africa, scientific imagination constructs outer space as a new “terra nullius”, the depths of which elicit curiosity and attract funding. Doing space science on African grounds reinscribes colonial and postcolonial histories of “Africa” within the discursive formation of cutting-edge astronomical research about “outer space”. How do these entanglements feed back into postcolonial conceptualizations of “Africa”? How does Earth figure both as planetary whole (as a celestial body amongst many) and as ridden by global inequalities (distributed across the postcolonial world map)? What scalar dynamics does space science mobilize to definitions of Africa and outer space as epistemic objects? What are the locations of a universalized approach to postcoloniality?

In our contribution, based on two case studies from South Africa and Madagascar, we map these questions and further ask how astronomy’s gaze towards the cosmos relates to the particularities of South Africa’s exceptionalism and to Madagascar’s ambivalent relation to the African mainland. Our paper sets out to investigate how the studies of outer space in Africa and African studies on planet Earth meet.

Panel Afr01a
Re-wiring Africa: how do quests for scientific progress and for decoloniality resonate with each other? I
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -