Research

My research is organized into three themed categories (including publications and art-based projects):

The material culture of human spaceflight and its politics

It includes publications about the role of space industries in the Europeanization-Nationalization nexus; model of governance based on space technology and interopoerability of space stations systems; the relation between political power and transportation according to political ideals; and the use of objects and perception of the environment in the daily life during spaceflights. More recently, this theme emphasizing the ‘material’ social logics of human spaceflight, with a focus on the bodies-environment relationship, led me to develop cooperative works with designers, architects, artists, and social scientists interested into the conceptualization of future Moon habitats.

Cosmologies, colonialism and identity-building

From the Native-American criticism of the NASA space program in the 1960-70 to indigenous mobilizations against space launch facilities in French Guinea, ancestral and animist systems of beliefs in colonized cultures outline how much space exploration is not a universal ambition embedded in the human being’s nature but a cultural construction related to a certain relationship with the Earth, celestial bodies, territory, and political exercise. Moreover, it appears that cosmological cultures influence, more or less directly, both domestic space strategies and the role of these policies in identity politics. Currently, I am investigating this topic in the cases of South Africa (see the documentary “Looking for Afronauts”), and Russia.

A microsociology of international relations

This third theme includes publications emphasizing the training of astronauts and cosmonauts as a moral and carnal education structured around endurance; the gender norms that it involves; the circulation of traditions related to the Soviet space age and of models of masculinity; the role of the training for the ISS and the daily management of ground support activities in international relations among ISS partners. Since 2019, this section of my work especially emphasizes globalization — through the internationalization of Russian training methods in emerging countries (especially South Africa), the consequent circulation of industrial standards and inherited know-how, and the economic and strategic agreements that frame those circulations.

All these projects contribute to a common thread: discussing the political nature of human spaceflight as it has rarely been analyzed in social sciences and humanities — i.e. emphasizing the social, material and bodily dynamics of space exploration, furthermore empirically.