top of page


Thinking Outer Space
Philosophy, Astroculture and the Histories of Planetarity

NYU Berlin

Berlin, 19–21 July 2023

Alexander C.T. Geppert (New York University/NYU Shanghai) and Rory Rowan (Trinity College Dublin)

Deadline for proposals: Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Participants will be informed by: Monday, 3 April 2023

In the past decade, historians, humanists and social scientists have begun to realize that the exploration of outer space was much more than a technoscientific enterprise. Rather, it was also prepared and accompanied, critiqued and opposed by a wide array of intellectuals from Hannah Arendt, Hans Blumenberg and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to Carl Schmitt, Marshall McLuhan and Jean-François Lyotard. Weighing postwar world orders, environmental consciousness, cosmic solitude and human futures from an extra-terrestrial perspective, these philosophers contributed to the planetization of Earth through the thinking of space. e

How we understand our diverse relationships to outer space is of vital importance today when it has become the site of new waves of geopolitical competition and commercial speculation. State and corporate plans for colonizing the Moon and Mars have captured the public imagination and budgets alike, while the threat of military confrontation and environmental destruction beyond Earth is rapidly expanding. Examining how philosophers and thinkers from a variety of intellectual traditions conceived, comprehended and communicated outer space is crucial to contextualizing the so-called ‘new’ Space Age. The endeavor will help to understand the intellectual and ethical foundations for contemporary interest in planetarity and what some believe to be a dawning Second Space Age.

Held at NYU Berlin, Thinking Outer Space will be a mid-size interdisciplinary conference with a maximum of twenty participants. This will be in-person event without an online option. We invite proposals for twenty-minute presentations that engage the work of key thinkers and intellectual movements as well as the production, dissemination and consumption of debates around outer space and extraterrestrialism. While the conference focuses primarily on the sphere of twentieth-century philosophy and related disciplines, we recognize that space thought also took shape in other domains such as literature, social movements, government institutions, and think tanks. We are particularly interested in intellectual engagements with astroculture from outside the major space-faring nations and non-western contexts.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words together with a brief CV by Wednesday, 15 March 2023 to convenors Alexander Geppert ( and Rory Rowan ( Selected participants will be informed by Monday, 3 April 2023. A small number of travel and accommodation grants are available for those without access to research funds; preference will be given to graduate students and early-career scholars.

bottom of page