This fall quarter the UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center will host Yale anthropologist Lisa Messeri as part of their “Crossings + Boundaries” series.
Professor Messeri will recount ethnographic findings from her work with exoplanet astronomers – scientists who search for and study planets around stars other than the sun. She will discuss how sterile scientific images lead to rich imaginations of the kinds of places exoplanets might be. Transforming planets into worlds invites us to imagine leaving the boundaries of our world and extending human presence beyond the solar system. What are the stakes of such imaginations? How do they rethink Earth, as planet and world? Messeri will suggest that even as exoplanet images and imaginations pull us into the cosmos, they profoundly re-assert how being an Earthling is essential to being a human.