Doktorandin/ PhD candidate (Prof. Dr. Thomas Stodulka)
DokPhD Project "Thinking Beyond the Final Frontier: Cosmic Futures in Thailand"
Lauren Reid is a curator, researcher and educator. In addition to being a PhD Candidate in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Freie Universität, Lauren is Co-Director of insitu collective and Lecturer in Curatorial Practice at Node Centre for Curatorial Studies.
PhD Project "Thinking Beyond the Final Frontier: Cosmic Futures in Thailand"
In light of the devastating effects of climate change, rapid technological development and the discovery of potentially habitable planets, various advocates such as space science agencies, commercial companies and campaigners, are renewing the promise of space flight, exploration and settlement. Prominent space-focused communities like Russia, China and U.S. America’s New Space cohorts predominantly imagine space as a ‘new frontier’ to monetise, mine and inhabit. This research aims to think beyond colonial, hegemonic and time-worn narratives about human futures in space by focusing on the cosmic aspirations, preparations and imaginaries of Thailand’s emergent space-interested communities.
Based on 12 months fieldwork in Thailand in 2018 with scientific and religious communities including the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) and the Buddhist extraterrestrial believer group UFO Kaokala, this research explores the complex entanglement of futuristic cosmic imaginaries and space exploration practices with wider contexts of socio-politics, national identity, scientific practices and religious influences in Thailand today.
Although Thailand may seem like a relatively peripheral point of focus within the field of space exploration, the concurrence of Thailand’s fledgling space science and technology sector with overarching Buddhist and animist ontologies provide fertile ground for thinking through the countless ethical and philosophical questions about what space exploration and inhabitation mean for Earth’s ecosystems, human and non-human populations, the existence of possible life in space, and the kinds of impacts humans might have on the cosmos.