Order of Multitudes

Lisa Messeri

Lisa Messeri is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale University. Her research focuses on the practices, imaginaries, and influences of contemporary science and technology. Her work asks how the planetary imagination developed by scientists looking outward might be turned inward and used to comprehend Earth on a planetary scale, a shift she posits is necessary for confronting today’s environmental and political crises. She is interested in how scientists transform our understanding of what it means to be in the world. Her first book, Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds (Duke University Press, 2016), is about planetary scientists and how they transform planets from scientific objects into worlds. In so doing, Mars scientists and exoplanet astronomers are re-shaping our understanding of the universe, presenting a cosmos filled with places and destinations instead of an empty void. She is currently investigating the re-emerging technology of virtual reality (VR). As a technology of immersion, VR promises to transport us to existing and fictitious places. Through reading, teaching, and writing, she endeavours to link conversations in sociocultural anthropology with other fields of inquiry, including science and technology studies, media studies, cultural geography, environmental humanities, and history of science and technology.