Outer Space Trilogy 3: Ice Cream and Architecture

This is the third and final 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. The first two episodes in the series included “Haircuts and Billionaires,” with David Valentine and “Moon Dust and Cosmo/politics,” with Debbora Battaglia.

In this episode I interview Valerie Olson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. We discuss topics including the limits of the Anthropocene; the rising importance of systems thinking; off-world architecture and increasing space garbage; as well as reimagining the body beyond Earth in relation to twin studies, medicine, and food.

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

For another podcast exploration of outer space anthropology, see this episode of Dominic Boyer and Cymene Howe’s Cultures of Energy podcast featuring Lisa Messeri on her exciting new book, Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds.


William Lempert produced this episode of AnthroPod. Special thanks to Executive Producer Marios Falaris for valuable feedback, NASA for their vast sound library, and Vox Media for the use of an illustrated image of an astronaut holding the iconic three-colored Neapolitan space ice cream from their video “Astronaut Ice Cream is a Lie.”

AnthroPod features interviews with anthropologists about their work, experiences in the field, and current events. To pitch your own episode ideas or to offer feedback, email us at [email protected] You can find AnthroPod at SoundCloud, subscribe to it on iTunes, or use our RSS feed. If you have any thoughts on this episode or on AnthroPod more broadly, please leave us a comment to the right or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter.