Alexander Geppert is Associate Professor of History and European Studies at New York University, with a joint appointment at NYU New York and NYU Shanghai. From 2010 to 2016 he directed the Emmy Noether research group ‘The Future in the Stars: European Astroculture and Extraterrestrial Life in the Twentieth Century’ at Freie Universität Berlin. He has held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, served as the Eleanor Searle Visiting Professor of History at Caltech and will be scholar-in-residence at the Deutsches Museum in 2023/24. Alexander Geppert’s publications include a trilogy on European astroculture, consisting of Imagining Outer Space: European Astroculture in the Twentieth Century (2nd edn 2018, ed.); Limiting Outer Space: Astroculture after Apollo (2018, ed.); and Militarizing Outer Space: Astroculture, Dystopia and the Cold War (2021, co-ed.). Alexander Geppert is currently at work on a special journal issue on “rocket stars” in the Global Space Age and two monographs, The Future in the Stars: Europe, Astroculture and the Age of Space, and a sequel, Planetizing Earth: An Extra-Terrestrial History of the Global Present. He also runs the ‘NYU Space Talks: History, Politics, Astroculture’ lecture series (space-talks.com).
Rory Rowan (Dublin)
Rory Rowan is Assistant Professor of Geography at Trinity College Dublin. His research spans political ecology, geopolitics and intellectual history, and currently focuses on the changing geopolitics of outer space and the environmental governance of ‘space resources.’ He is the author, with Claudio Minca, of On Schmitt and Space (2016), a book exploring the spatial theory of the controversial German legal and political philosopher Carl Schmitt. Rory Rowan has also explored the political consequences of the Anthropocene and the production of the planet as an object of governance, in Progress in Human Geography, Society and Space and e-Flux. He regularly contributes to academic journals and art publications.
Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko is an anthropologist at the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies at the University of Copenhagen. She has carried out extensive research on Buddhism and other religious traditions in Mongolia, Australia and India, and is the author of Enlightenment and the Gasping City (2019). Her current research project ‘Impermanent – Imperishable: Plastics and Praxis among Buddhists in Oceania’ looks at how Buddhists in Oceania relate to radical permeability and toxicity amidst the changing ecosystems on the planet. Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko has carried out research projects at the University of Edinburgh, Universität Erfurt, NYU Shanghai and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. She is the co-founder of Cenote, a traveling multi-disciplinary residency program.
Helen Ahner works at the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. She studied cultural and historical anthropology and rhetoric at Universität Tübingen and received her PhD in 2021 with a thesis examining the history of experience in the planetarium. Her book Planetarien: Wunder der Technik – Techniken des Wunderns will be published in 2023. In her current research, Helen Ahner explores sport emotions with a particular focus on the history of female ambition.
Thore Bjørnvig is an historian of religion based in Copenhagen. His research focuses on religious aspects of spaceflight, SETI and science fiction. He has contributed to two volumes on European astroculture, edited by Alexander Geppert, and co-edited a special issue of Astropolitics on spaceflight and religion together with Roger Launius and Virgiliu Pop. Thore Bjørnvig’s most recent article is ‘Leaving the Cradle: Apocalypse, Transcendence and Childhood’s End,’ in Andrew M. Butler and Paul March-Russel, eds., Rendezvous with Arthur C. Clarke: Centenary Essays (2022).
John Brewer is Eli and Edythe Broad Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the California Institute of Technology and Faculty Associate of the History Department at Harvard University. He has taught at Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, UCLA, where he was Director of the Clark Library, the European University Institute, and the University of Chicago. He has held visiting professorships or fellowships at Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris, Radboud University, the University of Pittsburgh Humanities Center, the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Munich, and the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Durham. John Brewer is the author and editor of a dozen books and his work has appeared in six different languages. He has received fellowships and Grants from the N.E.H, the Getty Trust, the Guggenheim and Mellon foundations. His The Pleasures of the Imagination won the Wolfson History Prize in 1998 and was nominated for a National Book Award. His most recent book, Volcanic: Vesuvius in the Age of Revolutions will appear in October.
Vladimir Brljak is Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies at Durham University and is currently visiting the Warburg Institute on a Frances A. Yates Long-Term Fellowship. His primary specialization is in English literary history, 1500–1700, with wider interests in the long history of poetics and hermeneutics. He also works on the literary and cultural history of outer space. His current project in this field, When Did Space Turn Dark?, examines the shift from bright to dark space in the Western cosmological imagination. Vladimir Brljak has held the Thole Research Fellowship at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, as well as visiting fellowships and grants at the Bodleian Library, Huntington Library and Durham’s Institute of Advanced Study.
Stephen Buono is an Ernest R. May Fellow in History and Policy at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. In the fall, he will take up a position as Harper and Schmidt Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His first book, The Province of All Mankind narrates the birth of outer space as a realm of US foreign relations and international law in the twentieth century. He is at work on a second book, commissioned by NASA, about the history of lunar governance.
Christoph Conrad (Geneva)
Christoph Conrad studied social and economic history, philosophy and Islamic studies in Berlin, Bonn, Paris and at Brandeis University. He received his PhD at Freie Universität Berlin in 1992. From 2002 to 2022 he was full professor of contemporary European history at the Université de Genève in Switzerland. As a fellow or guest professor Christoph Conrad was invited to the EHESS in Paris, Harvard, Humboldt and Freiburg universities and other places. He has published on business history and consumer society, the history of aging and historical demography, comparative welfare state research, and on the history and theory of historiography. Christoph Conrad serves on the editorial boards of Geschichte und Gesellschaft and Le Mouvement Social. His current research interests include global population history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and the challenges of global aging.
Olga Dubrovina is a research fellow at the Department of Political Science, Law and International Studies (SPGI) at Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy. She holds a PhD in Humanities from Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (2015) and a PhD in contemporary history from Moscow State University Lomonosov (2017). In 2020/21 she participated in the Horizon 2020 project InsSciDE (Inventing a shared Science Diplomacy for Europe) taking Russian science diplomacy throughout the Space Race during the Cold War as her case study. Olga Dubrovina’s recent publications include ‘“Welcome, Sputnik is Open to Everyone!” International Aspects of the Soviet Space Myth,’ in Mondo contemporaneo (2020); and ‘Space Diplomacy in the Cold War Context: How it Worked on the Soviet Side,’ in Claire Mays et al., eds., Inventing a Shared Science Diplomacy for Europe: Interdisciplinary Case Studies to Think with History (2022).
Oliver Dunnett is a senior lecturer in human geography at Queen’s University Belfast, specializing in cultural, historical and political geography. His research focuses on the ways in which the cultures and politics of outer space, science and technology are connected to questions of place, landscape and identity in a variety of local, regional and (inter-)national contexts. Oliver Dunnett is the author of Earth, Cosmos and Culture: Geographies of Outer Space in Britain, 1900–2020 (2021) and has published on topics such as the moral geographies of light pollution, the ethics of space exploration and the history of outer space in geography. He has further research interests in literary geographies, critical geopolitics and the geographies of popular culture.
Greg Eghigian is Professor of History and Bioethics at Penn State University. He is a historian of science and medicine, specializing in the history of the human sciences and psychiatry. Most recently, he has been conducting research about the history of the global fascination with unidentified flying objects and aliens. His latest article (co-authored with Matthew McAllister) entitled ‘Flying Saucers and UFOs in US Advertising During the Cold War, 1947–1989’ was published in Advertising and Society Quarterly in 2022. Greg Eghigian’s history of the UFO and alien contact phenomenon is scheduled to be published in 2024. His next book project will examine the roles of truth, trust and trauma in claims of alien abduction.
Laurence Guignard is Associate Professor of Contemporary History at Université Paris-Est Créteil and a researcher at the Centre de recherches en histoire européenne comparée (CRHEC). She is a historian of knowledge in the nineteenth century with a particular interest in scholarly practices, visual culture, material history and bottom-up approaches. Since 2012 her work has focused on the history of astronomy. From 2018 to 2022 she co-directed Amateurs en sciences en France, 1850–1950: une histoire par en bas, a research project funded by the Agence nationale de la recherche. Laurence Guignard’s publications include Les images de la Lune: Archéologie d'un objet celeste, a forthcoming book on scientific imagery of the Moon, 1610–1912, and two special journal issues, L'Astronomie au XIXe siècle (2014) and Libido sciendi: Le goût du savoir, 1840–1900 (2018). She is currently co-authoring Panorama de l'amateurisme, 1850–1950 and co-editing two further special issues, The Amateur Scientist's Workshop, 1800–1950: A History through Objects (with Sylvain Venayre) and L'aventure spatiale, XVIIIe-XXIe siècles (with Laurent Martin and Elsa De Smet), both forthcoming in 2024.
Michael Hagemeister is a historian and slavicist. He has published widely on Russian philosophy and history, particularly apocalyptic and utopian thought. Hagemeister was employed at universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He is currently involved in a research project at Ruhr-Universität Bochum on anti-Western and anti-modern thought in Russia. His publications include Die Neue Menschheit: Biopolitische Utopien in Rußland zu Beginn des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, eds. Boris Groys and Michael Hagemeister (2005/2016); ‘Konstantin Tsiolkovskii and the Occult Roots of Soviet Space Travel,’ in Birgit Menzel et al., eds., The New Age of Russia: Occult and Esoteric Dimensions (2012); and ‘Le “cosmisme russe”, “philosophie de l’avenir?”,’ in Françoise Lesourd, ed., Le cosmisme russe: I. Tentative de définition (2018).
Ian Klinke is a political and historical geographer at the University of Oxford. His research covers the history of geopolitics, war and the intellectual far right. He has written two books: Cryptic Concrete: A Subterranean Journey into Cold War Germany (2018) examines West Germany’s now abandoned nuclear military landscape. Life, Earth, Colony: Friedrich Ratzel's Necropolitical Geography (2023) illuminates Ratzel’s ideas and traces their reception from the late nineteenth century to the present. Ian Klinke also co-edits the book series Geopolitical Bodies, Material Worlds.
Jörg Kreienbrock is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Northwestern University. He received his PhD in 2005 from the Department of German at New York University with a thesis examining representations of the small and minute in the prose works of Robert Walser. His research and teaching interests include German literature from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century with an emphasis on literary theory, poetry and poetics, and the history of science. Jörg Kreienbrock is the author of four books: Kleiner. Feiner. Leichter: Nuancierungen zum Werk Robert Walsers (2010); Malicious Objects, Anger Management, and the Question of Modern Literature (2013); Das Medium der Prosa: Studien zur Theorie der Lyrik (2020); and Sich im Weltall orientieren: Philosophieren im Kosmos 1950–1970 (2020).
James Lowder is a third year PhD student in the School of Geographical and Earth Science at the University of Glasgow, funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. His current research considers the material and cultural relations humans have with outer space, including the influence of cosmic forces on the earth. In practice, the project utilizes the textual analysis of film, an autoethnography of night sky photography and engagements with planetary scientists tracking down meteorites. On a more theoretical level, James Lowder’s work considers ideas related to the Anthropocene, the Solar System’s deep past and the earth’s far future. He is especially interested in solar catastrophes, including in fiction, popular science and philosophy.
Haitian Ma (Amsterdam)
Haitian Ma is an interdisciplinary researcher and conservator of time-based media. This fall, she will take up the position as Lecturer in Film, Television and Cross-Media Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She received an M.A. in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image from the Universiteit van Amsterdam, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and Critical translation from the University of Oxford and a B.A. in Humanities with honors from NYU Shanghai. Haitian Ma’s research interest spans across literary translation, archiving and the documentation of live art. Her recent publication ’Towards an Aesthetics of Ephemerality: Curating Documentation Footage at the Eye Filmmuseum 2021 Exhibition All about Theatre about Film with Amsterdam University Press presents a curatorial aesthetics of theatrical documentation that accentuates the condition of ephemerality. Currently, she also researches the history of Indian spaceflight with a focus on the image-making of Indian space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. Haitian Ma is the recipient of an Amsterdam Merit Scholarship (2021–2023), a Clarendon scholarship (2020/21) and an NYU Shanghai Senior Award for Excellence in the Arts (2020).
Piero Messina (Paris)
Piero Messina is a senior member of the ESA Director General’s Cabinet in Paris. He has extensive experience in space program management, international affairs in the space sector and strategic communication. He has held leading positions in ESA initiatives including the European exploration program Aurora, the Moon Village concept and, more recently, the Agency’s new Revolution Space vision. He has been involved in the ESA History Project and supports the management of ESA’s Historical Archives in Florence. Piero Messina graduated in political science, attended the International Space University in Strasburg and holds a degree in history and philosophy of science from the EHESS in Paris. Piero Messina is a strong advocate of a greater involvement of the social sciences in studying and appraising space activities and their impact on society and has taught at several universities. He aims to combine his practical experience with academic reflection on the impact of, and motivation for, human spaceflight.
Ben Van Overmeire (Kunshan)
Ben Van Overmeire is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Duke Kunshan University, a liberal arts joint-venture university located in Kunshan, China. A comparatist, he examines how Buddhist genres and ideas are understood today, particularly in popular literature. He recently finished a book manuscript on American Zen autobiography, describing how and why such narratives incorporate koan, Zen riddles revolving around seemingly unsolvable questions such as ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’. Ben Van Overmeir’s next project examines the Buddhist imagination of outer space. His work has appeared in Religions, Contemporary Buddhism, The Journal of Popular Culture and Buddhist-Christian Studies, among other journals.
Stefan Pedersen (Sussex)
Stefan Pedersen is Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced International Theory in the Department of International Relations, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. He is also a research fellow with the Earth System Governance Project (Universiteit Utrecht), where he is co-lead of the Taskforce on Planetary Justice. Stefan Pedersen completed his PhD in political theory at POLIS, University of Leeds, where he subsequently taught international relations and political theory. He also has a MSc and a BSc in Political Science from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Stefan Pedersen’s current work is primarily on planetary politics – from studying its early inception in the twentieth century to theorizing its present and future prospects as a new means of grounding the collective institutions of humankind. He has published in Environmental Philosophy, Globalizations and Journal of Political Ideologies.
Gabriela Radulescu (Berlin)
Gabriela Radulescu is a PhD student in history of science at Technische Universität Berlin. Her dissertation project investigates the Soviet contributions to radio astronomy’s engagement with extraterrestrial intelligence during the Space Age in an international context. The project focuses on the scientific communication across the Iron Curtain as well as the dynamic within the scientific community of the Soviet Union (between Russia and Armenia). Gabriela Radulescu’s previous education background is in history of ideas and science (M.A., University of Iceland), social anthropology (M.A., National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest) and philosophy (Bucharest University).
François Rulier (Toulouse)
François Rulier is a PhD student at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès under the supervision of Jean-Marc Olivier and Alexander Geppert. He works on the history of space law, focusing on space lawyers as a global epistemic community. He is also editorial secretary for the academic journal Nacelles: Past and Present of Aeronautics and Space. François Rulier’s research focuses on the construction of space law doctrine, considered in its intellectual and historical context, and the birth and consolidation of a network of space lawyers within academic, professional and astronautical organizations, and aims to contribute to better understanding the roots of the international commons projects. He approaches this epistemic community as both a producer of ideas and a force trying to influence the construction of positive law, notably within the United Nations. Of particular interest are the links between technicist ideology, astroculture, legal culture, internationalism and pacifism.
Bronislaw Szerszynski (Lancaster)
Bronislaw Szerszynski is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Lancaster University. His research draws on the social and natural sciences, arts and humanities in order to situate the changing relationship between humans, environment and technology in the longer perspective of human and planetary history. He is co-author, with Nigel Clark, of Planetary Social Thought (2021); author of Nature, Technology and the Sacred (2005); and co-editor of Risk, Environment and Modernity (1996), Re-Ordering Nature (2003), Nature Performed (2003) and Technofutures (2015). As well as academic publications, his outputs also include performances, creative writing, art-science exhibitions and events, and experimental participatory workshops. Bronislaw Szerszynski was co-organizer of the public art-science events Between Nature: Explorations in Ecology and Performance (Lancaster, 2000), Experimentality (Lancaster/Manchester/London, 2009/10), and Anthropocene Monument, with Bruno Latour and Olivier Michelon (Toulouse, 2014/15).
Anna Szolucha (Krakow)
Anna Szolucha is the principal investigator of the ARIES project (Anthropological Research into the Imaginaries and Exploration of Space) at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Her research focuses on the intersections of technology, natural resources and society. Anna Szolucha is also the editor of Energy, Resource Extraction and Society (2018). Her current project investigates the role of space resources and technologies in creating and sustaining imaginaries of ‘multi-planetary’ communities.
Brad Tabas (Brest)
Brad Tabas teaches philosophy and cultural studies in the Department of Social and Human Sciences at the École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées Bretagne (ENSTA). His research interests include critical theory, the philosophy of outer space, ethics, ordinary language and the philosophy of education. Brad Tabas’ recent writings on astrocriticism – the term here referring to critical thinking bearing on our changing historical relationship to the extra-terrestrial – have appeared in Ecocene, Ecozon@, Resilience, Cosmos and History, and Conversations.
Helmuth Trischler (München)
Helmuth Trischler is Head of Research at the Deutsches Museum, Professor of Modern History and History of Technology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and Co-Director of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. He is a member of Germany's National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and also of the National Academy of Science and Engineering acatech. His research foci are innovation cultures in international comparison, environmental history and aerospace history. In recent years, Helmuth Trischler has also worked on the concept of the Anthropocene as a challenge to the history of science, technology and the environment, and has curated the world's first major exhibition on the issue, Welcome to the Anthropocene: The Earth in Our Hands (2014–2016) at the Deutsches Museum.
Arthur Z. Wang (Philadelphia)
Arthur Z. Wang is a scholar of contemporary fiction, media, and feminist science and technology studies. His work focuses on how scientific concepts travel across contexts and assert universal applicability. His current book project, Minor Theories of Everything, is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the proliferation and propagation of scientific universalisms about human sociality since the twentieth century and their surprising uptake by feminists and writers of color. Arthur Wang’s second book project, tentatively titled Making Scientific Lives, investigates the co-formation of biographical media and the modern sciences, and traces tensions between ideals of scientific impersonality and the vibrant circulation of scientists’ life stories in academic and popular cultures. Currently a Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, he received a PhD in English from Yale University and, before graduate school, worked as a software engineer.
Bernd Weisbrod (Göttingen)
Bernd Weisbrod is Professor Emeritus of Modern European history at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. His main research interests are political culture and political violence, post-dictatorial transitions and the public sphere, cultures of poverty and welfare reforms, the history of generations and the politics of memory. He has held visiting professorships at the New School in New York, Magdalen College in Oxford, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the European University Institute in Florence, Rutgers University and the Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF) in Bielefeld and has been Gerda Henkel Visiting Professor at Stanford University. Until his retirement Bernd Weisbrod directed the Göttingen graduate school Generations in Modern History project and the Association for Contemporary History in Lower Saxony (ZAKN). He also served on the board of the Buchenwald-Dora memorial foundation and the Koebner Centre for German History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Bernd Weisbrod is a corresponding fellow of the Royal Historical Society.