Michael is working on a PhD examining space science and exploration to understand how science, science fiction, and other forms of cultural background each play a role in the way scientists plan for space exploration. In this unique historical moment as space settlement is on the horizon, he asks: what sources do space scientists draw from as they imagine possible futures for humans in space and what opportunities do these imaginaries present for an emerging anthropology of space?
As humans move into space, we bring culture with us; but which ideas, practices, and traditions will we bring? What will we find, create, and encounter in space and how can we do a speculative anthropology of this potential alterity? To investigate these and other questions, Michael is conducting ethnographic studies with international communities of space scientists as they prepare for and conduct various modes of space exploration. Through these studies he is developing and testing both practical, analytical, and theory-based tools for conducting social scientific research among communities engaged in space science, exploration, and settlement and for imagining possible futures in space, both human and non-human.