European Astrofuturism, Cosmic Provincialism: Historicizing the Space Age
Ubiquitous, limitless and ever-expanding as it may be, outer space has a history too. Although it is virtually impossible to experience outer space in a direct, unmediated manner, historians can study how it was represented, communicated and perceived. In addition to presenting the core questions that drive the Imagining Outer Space volume, this chapter introduces the umbrella concept of ‘astroculture,’ discusses the necessity to ‘Europeanize’ space history and suggests to regard ‘science fiction’ and ‘science fact’ as complementary rather than contradictory. The article also draws attention to two further characteristics of twentieth-century astroculture, that is its futuristic, often explicitly utopian strand as well as a strong transcendental, if not outspokenly religious undercurrent.