This hour-long workshop focuses on non-Western perspectives that understand the celestial as neither alien nor outer. In reflecting on the A Sign in Space project, we engage in activities that explore how intelligent extraterrestrials might imagine language and spacial mapping in radically different ways. The workshop is grounded within anthropologically-informed aspects of Polynesian wayfinding, nomadic spacial orientation, and how language itself structures what can be communicated. Throughout, these discussions are related to examples from science fiction stories that bring speculative possibilities of SETI to life.
William Lempert is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He has conducted over two years of ethnographic fieldwork since 2006 in the Kimberley region of Northwestern Australia with Indigenous media organizations. Through collaboration on production teams, he aims to understand the stakes of Aboriginal self-representation embedded within the dynamic process of filmmaking.
His research engages tensions between the production of films that vividly imagine hopeful and diverse Indigenous futures, and the broader defunding of Aboriginal communities and organizations.
This ethnographic research informs his current work on how critical engagements with settler-colonial histories and Indigenous futurisms can foster a fundamental reimagining of the current era of outer space colonization.