Outer Space Trilogy 1: Haircuts and Billionaires

This is the first episode in a special AnthroPod trilogy highlighting three anthropologists of outer space and coauthors of “Relational Space: An Earthly Installation,” an article appearing in the May 2015 issue of Cultural Anthropology. Incorporating soundscapes created from the recently released NASA audio archive, these episodes aim to place the work of these anthropologists in dialogue with current events and popular culture.

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In this episode, I interview David Valentine, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. Our wide-ranging conversation touches on haircuts in space, the colonization of Mars, the rise of the NewSpace community and its ties to billionaires like Elon Musk, and what anthropology can do to ground otherworldly discussions of risk, imagination, and the future.

The following two episodes, to be released in February and March, will engage with Valentine’s coauthors, Debbora Battaglia and Valerie Olson. The trio previously collaborated on a 2012 special issue of Anthropological Quarterly entitled “Extreme: Humans at Home in the Cosmos.”

While outer space is a fieldsite far from what some of our listeners will associate with anthropology, we hope you will join us on this journey to better understand what it means to be human beyond the planet on which we have evolved.

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Earth’s atmosphere, as seen from the International Space Station. Photo by NASA.

William Lempert produced this episode of AnthroPod. Special thanks to Executive Producer Marios Falaris for valuable feedback, and to NASA for their vast sound library.

AnthroPod features interviews with current anthropologists about their work, current events, and their experiences in the field. To pitch your own episode ideas or to offer feedback, email us at anthropod@culanth.org.

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