ABSTRACT

Social scientific research has been paradoxically connected to and separated from outer spaces. Today, scholars who deliberately surface that paradox are refielding social scientific spaces to include transplanetary and stellar fields. This chapter surveys methods, problems, innovations, and politics emerging for those scholars. It specifically focuses on how they address the more-than-terran dynamics of geopolitics and place-making, racial hierarchy and empire, indigeneity, and colonisation, and the enclosures and openings of experimentation and sovereign becoming. This chapter engages critical responses to space studies, as well as provides an overview of emerging openings and challenges.

Spaces outside Earth’s atmosphere are, for unaided humans, unsurvivable. And yet all societies include those outer spaces—and their things and entities—within the bounds of shared experience. Scholars who do work on social space and place know this, but most have assumed their earthly research fields to be separate a priori from those outer spaces. This had made outer spaces ambiguous in social scientific terms. They are apart but not disconnected, here but not here. It is in this ambiguous mode that spaces beyond Earth’s surface are becoming legitimate social research project sites.