CFP: Antarctica and Outer Space: Transversal Perspectives


Issue 7 – Number 2 – December 2017



Guest Editor: Juan Francisco Salazar – Western Sydney University

The space age arguably began sixty years ago with the launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957. This significant event took place during the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year (IGY), a time when both Antarctica and Outer Space became new extreme frontiers for science exploration. A pivotal outcome of IGY was the 1958 Convention on the High Seas, which considered the first international space beyond sovereign jurisdictions. In a period of heightened tensions during the Cold War, the Antarctic Treaty followed in 1959 laying down the principles of a legal regime for the governance and scientific exploration of Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty System has since provided lessons that are relevant to the governance of ‘transboundary systems’ and other international spaces beyond sovereign jurisdictions (outer space and the lower orbit, the deep sea and the high seas; the atmosphere). As extraterritorial spaces that are ‘imaginatively, historically, and juridically interconnected’ (DeLoughrey 2014) Antarctica and Outer Space have been key to modern understandings of Earth, to the visualization of global environment change in Anthropocene times, and to the search for bio-signatures and microbial life forms in other planets and celestial bodies in the Solar System.

Antarctica has been conceived as a ‘window on outer space’ and as an analogue and proxy for outer space environments; or a ‘place outside the circuits of the known world that both precedes the moon as a destination of otherworldly knowledge and is coterminous with “outer space”’ (Glasberg 2012). While scholars argue that Antarctica and Outer Space have never been spaces for humanity to attach to pre-existing flows of culture, contemporary humanities and social sciences research is showing how Antarctic places and cultures are emerging, with distinct modes of subjectivity and forms of sociality in extreme environments; or how planetary scientists and astrobiologists studying outer space environments rely on analogue environments on Earth (such as Antarctica) for their endeavours and are engaged in practices of place-making to make sense of other planets, such as Mars. In effect, Antarctica has been a sphere of human endeavour for well over a century and Outer Space for just over 50 years. Humans are now physically present in Antarctica year round by over 1000 transient scientist and logistics personnel, a figure that expands – like Antarctic ice expands in winter – to 5000 people in summer. More than 30,000 tourists visit the fringes of the Antarctic continent every year. On the other hand humans have ‘inhabited space’ with relatively short absences for the last 20 years, and without interruption since 2000 by successive crews of the International Space Station (ISS) – arguably the most expensive piece of technology ever built. By the first decade of the 21st century an estimated 6600 satellites have been launched into the lower orbit, of which about 3600 remain in space with currently over 1000 operational spacecraft in continuous orbit of the Earth, serving a variety of military, civilian and commercial uses.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the colloquially called ‘Outer Space Treaty’ (1967) this special issue of The Polar Journal brings together international scholars from across several disciplines to reflect, examine critically, and speculate on the relational trajectories, histories, and futures of Antarctica and Outer Space. This exercise in relationality is a call to offer conceptual and empirical itineraries of associations, relations and connections that point toward an understanding of both Antarctica and Outer Space as crucial sites for examining human life in extreme environments and beyond. It’s an invitation to think of cosmo- ecological futures, for figuring these worlds and associated future-making practices in social, economic, ecological, and political terms.

The Polar Journal is a peer reviewed and indexed international journal published by Taylor & Francis that aims to be a forum for the scholarly discussion of polar issues from a social sciences and humanities perspective. Cutting across sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, international relations, science and technology studies, political geography, psychology, biology, planetary sciences, space studies, literary studies, critical feminist studies, and media studies, this Special Issue of The Polar Journal seeks to address topics such as [but not limited to] the following:

  • Antarctica as model or experiment; Antarctica and Outer Space as laboratories for imagining socio- ecological futures. Temporalities; Antarctica as a proxy for future space exploration and colonization. Analogue ecosystems; no-analogue ecosystems; model ecosystems.
  • The emergence of new Asian powers in Antarctic and Space affairs. Changing modes of nationalism in Outer Space and Antarctica. International collaboration/cooperation in Antarctica and Outer Space. Human governance in Antarctica and beyond Earth: lessons and mistakes form Antarctica. Future planned space stations and Low Earth orbit politics.
  • Valuing and valuation: the strategic value of Antarctica and Outer Space. The business of Outer Space exploration. International regulation of space activities and ethics of space commercial activities. The privatization of Outer Space.
  • Extremophiles: Limits of life in Antarctica and Outer Space. Ethics and politics of bio-prospecting in Antarctica and Outer space. Ethics of terraforming and eco-synthesis in Outer Space. Biopolitical economies.
  • Inhabiting extreme environments and outer spaces. Life in isolation and confinement. The mundane and the banal: sociality and behaviour. Military-civilian settlements. Critical approaches to spatialities and place-making in Antarctica and Outer Space. Materiality of research stations and fieldwork practices; Antarctic architecture.
  • Scopic regimes and visual representations/mediations of Antarctica and Outer Space. Science-fiction and speculative fiction; Antarctica and Outer Space in film, literary fiction and video games. Political aesthetics of life in Antarctica and Outer Space.
  • Gender/Race politics in scientific exploration of Antarctica and Outer Space. Legacies and realities of colonialism.
  • Ecologies of affect; affective labour; the becoming of polar and planetary subjects. Posthuman futures in Antarctica and Outer Space: nostalgia, desire, despair and hope. Bodily experience, embodiment and performativity in Antarctica and Outer Space.
  • The sounds of Antarctica and Outer Space. Soundscapes and other sensory engagements with extreme environments and events.
  • Postcolonial ecologies in Antarctica and Outer Space. Practices of commoning: Antarctic commons; cosmos as commons; cosmic diplomacy. Environmentalism and the exploration and settlement of Space. The co-becoming of Antarctica and Outer Space.
  • Materiality of extreme spaces; Antarctic archaeology and Space archaeology. Infrastructures and logistics in Antarctic and Outer Space environments. Satellite politics; artificial biomes and life support systems.
  • Tourism, travel, and mobilities to, from, across and in Antarctica and Outer Space.


  • First draft of articles due: March 17, 2017
  • Reviews back to authors: May 19, 2017
  • Submission of revised articles: June 30, 2017
  • Production process at T&F starts: July 1, 2017
  • Proofs & final revisions:  September-October 2017
  • Special Issue out: December 2017