Author Archives: Chakad Ojani

I’m an anthropologist of infrastructures, environments, and practices of speculation. I received my PhD in social anthropology from the University of Manchester and I’m currently a postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University.
A thin standing rocket with Maxus written from upside down on its bottom half, it is located in the old city center of Kiruna. Around it there are trees without leaves. in the background there is a hill with snow on it, that is where the iron ore mine is located.

As Above, So Below: Vertical Territory in Northern Sweden

Space exploration in northern Sweden often gains meaning in relation to mining. In this blog post, I ask: how does mining serve as a “speculative device” (McCormack 2018) for envisaging a future beyond Earth? I was drawn to the topic of outer space infrastructures by the Swedish Space Corporation’s ongoing expansion of its rocket launch site, located outside the subarctic city of Kiruna. This expansion aims to turn what has thus far been a sounding rocket range into a full-fledged launch site for small satellites, undertaken in anticipation of a dramatic increase in the demand for launch services over the forthcoming decades. The land occupied by the spaceport and its impact area, twice the size of Luxembourg, interferes with the reindeer herding lands of four Sámi villages. In early 2022, I traveled to Kiruna to begin inquiring into the politics of space exploration in Sweden, focusing in part on the relation between the launch site and the reindeer herders. Yet, eluding my questions about space and instead shifting the conversation to mining, several of the herders I spoke with urged me to consider how outer space was often shot through the region’s long-running history of underground resource extraction. (read more...)