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The Spaces Between Us: The Gendered Politics of Outer Space

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Abstract:

This paper is about sex, but not the sex that people already ‘have clarity about’. ‘Outer space’ as a human, public domain is organized around sex, but a ‘sex’ that is tacitly located, and rarely spoken, in official discourse. The politics of space, as they are conceived of and practised in the US, embody a distinction between public and private (and appropriate behaviours, meanings and identities therein) that is highly dependent upon heteronormative hierarchies of property and propriety. A dominant, US-led, discourse of space is thus formed from and upon institutions, structures of understanding, and practical orientations that privilege and normalize heterosexuality as universal. As such, the dominant discursive rationalisations of space exploration and conquest (re)produce both heterosexuality as ‘unmarked’ (that is, thoroughly normalized) and the heterosexual imperatives that constitute suitable space-able people, practices and behaviours.

The central aim of this paper is to show how a dominant US discourse of technological, military and commercial superiority configures and prescribes success and successful behaviour in the politics of outer space in particularly gendered forms. US space discourse is predicated on a heteronormative discourse that (re)produces the dominance of heterosexual masculinity(ies), and which hierarchically orders the construction of other (subordinate) gender identities. As a particularly dominant discursive arrangement of outer space politics, US space discourse (re)produces meaning through the gendered assumptions of exploration, colonisation, economic endeavour and military conquest that are deeply gendered whilst presented as universal and neutral.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

space (236), outer (116), us (105), polit (70), discours (53), gender (44), human (36), paper (33), intern (29), heterosexu (29), read (28), sex (27), militari (25), 2005 (25), isa (24), explor (24), ii (23), ident (22), domin (21), discurs (20), heteronorm (19),

Author's Keywords:

Gender, Sex, Outer Space, Politics, Discourse
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Name: International Studies Association
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http://www.isanet.org


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MLA Citation:

Griffin, Penny. "The Spaces Between Us: The Gendered Politics of Outer Space" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA, Mar 22, 2006 <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p98301_index.html>

APA Citation:

Griffin, P. , 2006-03-22 "The Spaces Between Us: The Gendered Politics of Outer Space" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA Online <PDF>. 2013-12-17 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p98301_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: This paper is about sex, but not the sex that people already ‘have clarity about’. ‘Outer space’ as a human, public domain is organized around sex, but a ‘sex’ that is tacitly located, and rarely spoken, in official discourse. The politics of space, as they are conceived of and practised in the US, embody a distinction between public and private (and appropriate behaviours, meanings and identities therein) that is highly dependent upon heteronormative hierarchies of property and propriety. A dominant, US-led, discourse of space is thus formed from and upon institutions, structures of understanding, and practical orientations that privilege and normalize heterosexuality as universal. As such, the dominant discursive rationalisations of space exploration and conquest (re)produce both heterosexuality as ‘unmarked’ (that is, thoroughly normalized) and the heterosexual imperatives that constitute suitable space-able people, practices and behaviours.

The central aim of this paper is to show how a dominant US discourse of technological, military and commercial superiority configures and prescribes success and successful behaviour in the politics of outer space in particularly gendered forms. US space discourse is predicated on a heteronormative discourse that (re)produces the dominance of heterosexual masculinity(ies), and which hierarchically orders the construction of other (subordinate) gender identities. As a particularly dominant discursive arrangement of outer space politics, US space discourse (re)produces meaning through the gendered assumptions of exploration, colonisation, economic endeavour and military conquest that are deeply gendered whilst presented as universal and neutral.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 24
Word count: 6356
Text sample:
Paper for ISA. The International Politics of Outer Space Reading Outer Space II ‘The Spaces Between Us: The Gendered Politics of Outer Space’ Draft Paper Only **please do not cite** Prepared for ISA Conference in San Diego March 22-25 2006 Panel on ‘Reading Outer Space’ Saturday March 25 2006. Penny Griffin University of Bristol Department of Politics 10 Priory Road Bristol BS8 1TU UK penny.griffin@bris.ac.uk 1 Paper for ISA. The International Politics of Outer Space Reading Outer Space II
Berlant and Warner’s 1998 essay ‘Sex in Public’ which describes heteronormativity as ‘the institutions structures of understanding and practical orientations that make heterosexuality seem not only coherent – that is organized as a sexuality – but also privileged’. In this sense heteronormativity and heterosexuality are terms with slightly different conceptual meanings. A heteronormative politics invariably privileges heterosexual behaviour but unlike heterosexuality there can be as Berlant and Warner articulate no homosexual opposite because homosexuality ‘can never have the invisible


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