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Extraterrestrial Relativism

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 85, Number 4, Fall 2012
pp. 1125-1139 | 10.1353/anq.2012.0064



This paper suggests that today’s twin scientific interests in the extreme and extraterrestrial ground a novel kind of relativism, which I call extraterrestrial relativism, a relativism about “nature” over culture—and, more, about Earthly, even cosmic, nature. I develop the concept of extraterrestrial relativism using ethnographic work I conducted among astrobiologists and I suggest that this genre of relativism can be brought into a newly inaugurated conversation on “comparative relativisms” in anthropology.