Life as We Don’t Yet Know It: An Anthropologist’s First Contact with the Science of ‘Weird Life’

Debbora Battaglia
  • Debbora  BattagliaEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology book series (PSHST)


This chapter argues that anthropology is uniquely positioned to address the intellectual challenges posed by the trope of outer space, by presenting counterfactuals to the worlds of alien/UFO believers we think we understand, from the native point of view. Ethnography, and the historical inquiries of anthropology as a discipline, acquire a new descriptive and also a diplomatic function in these terms – giving expression to realms of intimate foreignness, complexly inter-related by the practical ontologies of contact in a fluid modernity. Further, the discipline’s ritualized ‘welcoming apparatuses’ are exemplary sites for increased sensitization to multiple kinds of actors, such that models of disciplinary coherence can unapologetically give way to the creative possibilities of diverse modes of knowledge exchange.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mount Holyoke CollegeSouth HadleyUSA

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