“The mind comes to know things by comparison” one effect being “that knowledge derived from acts of comparison acquires characteristics of its own” (Strathern 2020, 29). For instance, without having a distinct idea of what a “woman” is, we gain a pretty clear idea of what a “sister” is when we compare two women “in reference to one common parent“ (ibid, 30). Thus, “to have a clear conception of that which is the foundation of the relation… may be done without having a perfect and clear idea of the thing it is attributed to” (Locke in Strathern 2020, 30).
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Part 5: Scapus
A scape– from Latin scapus shaft– is a capture device for vastness. So, we define environments by seeing them as landscapes, transform land into territory, in order to ‘get hold of it’, ‘get a grip on it’, understand, obtain control, enable navigation and ultimately, ‘own’ a space. This last step of scaping creates contestation; always. Up to now, the contestation about our mapping of off-earth is not always so tangible beyond mirroring known geopolitical power struggles on earth.
Part 4: Landscapes
Landscapes are convolutions of physical characteristics and human interventions in a certain space. At the present time, it is impossible to find a place on the Earth that hasn’t been interfered with by human curiosity or exploited by human ambition. It is indeed not possible to find a -scape that would be able to escape the parameters which define a landscape.
Part 3: Timescapes
In her theorisation of modern time, anthropologist Laura Bear argues that “science and technology tightly link social, human time to external non-human rhythms; frame time as a radically other secular force; and project a deep history of natural time” (Bear, 2014: 7). Following these insights, I like to think of space science infrastructure such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as a timescape.
Part 2: Escapes
Thinking of scapes, I take this opportunity to gather some thoughts on e-scapes: not electronic scapes, but ways of getting away. While this may not exactly designate a -scape as was proposed, it still provides a way to think about space and distance. It assembles certain ways of thinking about our situatedness in our time on this planet.
Part 1: Introduction to Scapes
Today, as space science activities are rapidly shifting the way humans perceive themselves on Earth, and within a larger set of relationships both on and off-Earth, we wonder how the spatial concept ‘scape’ helps us understand the relationship between terrestrial formations and extraterrestrial space.