A workshop at UW-Madison: “Alien Earth: Introduction to Planetary Humanities“:
The dawn of the Anthropocene, marked by the disastrous consequences of capitalism’s imagined “mastery” over planet Earth, has coincided with a spiked interest in humanity’s extraterrestrial futures. Yet, from President Trump’s ‘Space Force’ to privatized space colonization schemes, such as Elon Musk’s and Jeff Bezos’, and to the radical emancipatory horizons of Afrofuturism, there is a critical theoretical gap related to contemporary analyses of Anthropocene manifestations and their futures — namely, the gap of outer space itself. Aiming to address this theoretical shortcoming, this workshop critically assesses the hypothesis that our contemporary sense of environmental planetarity paradoxically depends on the vantage point of the inter-planetary. To what extent do the spacefaring fantasies of the Anthropocene emerge out of perspectives that attempt to justify or even accelerate terrestrial environmental decay? What happens when we begin to imagine that there are several Gaias in the universe? If humans begin to settle other worlds or planets, would we simply attempt to reproduce the same economic, political, national, and technological structures that mimic life on Earth? What kind of meaning emerges if we theorize Earth as a mediating ground between local experiences of human life and boundless experiences of planetary entities that gesture toward the infinite otherness of cosmic space?