Patrick Edgley (UCL) - 2018-19 Students

Triangulating the Human: Exploring Species Identity in Physical Cosmology

A recent turn in the field of anthropology has sought to bring insights gleaned from more traditional field-sites back to anthropological ‘centres’ – to turn new perspectives on social processes back on ourselves so that we might see our ‘western,’ ‘scientific,’ culture in a new light. This project seeks to join this tradition by exploring scientific physical cosmology and cosmo-cartography through an anthropological lens. Particularly, such materialist images of the world tend to omit any explicit commentary on the nature of the human, while the construction of the anthropos is a central element to the anthropological notion of cosmology. With this in mind, this project will interrogate how what it is to be human is nonetheless produced in this context: how imaging practices of the universe, both looking up to space and back to earth, facilitate a ‘scaling out’ to a ‘cosmic’ perspective, acting as a means of physically triangulating humans in the cosmos, and by extension grants a transcendental triangulation of the human species.

To explore this process of cosmogenesis, and how this ecology of perspectives is produced I will work with amateur astronomers in their projects of exploring the skies, exploring their methods of producing representations and cartographies, as well as their attitudes towards those representations, their reasons for participating in, and ways of understanding their work, and their understanding of the human and the scientific project in this context.

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