Davide Chinigò


I am a political scientist by training with a specific research focus on the interdisciplinary field of African Studies. My interest in the social studies of outer space grew from recent work I conducted at Stellenbosch University, on the social impact of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in South Africa, a major international investment to build the world’s largest radio telescope. Studying the politics and histories within which radio astronomy is immersed in the semi-arid Karoo region of South Africa and its broader national and global ramifications, I later developed a curiosity about the mutual constitution of Africa and outer space imaginaries as research objects. I approach this as a problem of representation – what kind of knowledge do we mobilise when we look at Africa in relation to outer space and vice versa – which requires a systematic investigation of the practices within which astronomy and space science programmes in Africa emerge, become visible, are negotiated socially and politically, and are contested. At the same time, I am interested in the materiality of telescopes, observatories, cables and other space science objects in configuring their social and political environments. I take a perspective on matter as agentive and productive of life, politics, histories, and new human openings. I am currently an Adjunct Professor of African History and Institutions at the University of Bologna, and Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University.

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