183. Uninhabitable? Decolonizing the Promise and Politics of Dwelling from Subnautical to Suborbital
Aaron Hopes, Stanford University; Hae-Seo Kim, University of California at Irvine;
Who decides what is habitable? Private space program idealogues deem the Earth 'uninhabitable', declaring that humans must move off-planet to have a future, as the search for habitable exoplanets drives outer space ventures (Messeri 2016). Meanwhile, indigenous peoples, scientists, and activists work to keep the world habitable for future generations, despite threats of endangerment and loss of life. Decisions of where and what is habitable have produced gendered, racialized, and colonial policies, rendering many places on Earth extractable, and ecologically destructible; imperial militarization has resulted in the global toxification of water tables, and bodies through perfluoroalkyl 'forever chemicals' (PFAS). Despite these forces, humans and animals dwell, and thrive, in 'uninhabitable' places, from the deserts of nuclear testing (Masco 2006) to demilitarized border zones (Kim 2022). Responding to this year's conference theme, we invite papers that expose patterns of power relations -and their contestations- attempting to determine who may dwell where and how, by rethinking notions of habitability (Langwick 2018) beyond Western/anthropocentric definitions. Questioning what it means to inhabit fraught urban environments, militarized and settler-colonized landscapes, but also particular lifeways, we seek to catalyze a focused dialogue on habitability, recognizing that habitability and the capacity to dwell within indigenous lifeways are often compromised (Bird Rose 2022) by the same forces of dispossession. As this panel takes place in the Pacific, we acknowledge the endless work of K?naka Maoli, Lew Chewan/Uchinanchu, Chamorro, and other Indigenous peoples through their labors of activism, scholarship, and art as they lead our thinking forward.