SG – Should We Go to Mars? Ethics for a Martian Society

Should we spend so much of our time and money on going to Mars? What can we expect from our attempts to live on the red planet? Join the conversation!

Organisator Studium Generale

ma 20 september 2021 20:00

Locatie Impulse, gebouwnummer 115

About Should We Go to Mars? Ethics for a Martian Society 

Why do we spend so much time and money on going to Mars? Should we go, or would it be wiser to focus on our own problems on Earth: climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, inequality and poverty, racism, war? What to think of our attempts to survive on Mars, and build a new society there – given our violent history of colonialization, and the fact that we ourselves have put our own survival on Earth in jeopardy? Or should one rather say that it is space research, and the technological developments following from it, that makes a sustainable life on Earth or beyond more likely? Are there ways to make a Martian Society more sustainable, fair, inclusive and just? Tonight we are going to explore these questions in depth! Join the conversation with writer and theatre maker Marjolijn van Heemstra and historian and artist Klaas Kuitenbrouwer. In her recent book, Van Heemstra explores her life-long fascination with space and the many existential, ethical and political questions surrounding it. And in his project Gardening Mars, Kuitenbrouwer focused on the practice of terraforming, discussing different frames from which to approach the ambitions to build a new society on Mars.

About Marjolijn van Heemstra

Marjolijn van Heemstra (photo: Frank Ruiter)
Marjolijn van Heemstra (photo: Frank Ruiter)

Marjolijn van Heemstra studied theology, intending to become a conflict mediator. Instead, she turned to theatre, and, currently, she works as a poet, writer, theatre maker, journalist and podcast maker. Her volumes of poetry and her novels won her several literary prizes and her last novel was translated into eight different languages.

Since 2019, Van Heemstra works as a journalist for Dutch online platform De Correspondent, where she investigates how space might help us to take on a different perspective to Earth. She recently published her non-fiction book (in Dutch) In lichtjaren heeft niemand haast.

In her podcasts Sør (2018), Stadsastronaut (2019), De Binnenbühne (2020)), she takes her listeners along on her explorations. Her theatre shows (Voyagers (2020), Lawrence of Arabia (2019), Stadsastronaut (2019)) are poetic, personal and full of engagement. She usually writes and performs herself, and at times invites non-professionals to join her on stage. By combining activism with nuanced thinking, she provides insight into her own research, and investigates in an accessible manner how we can think differently about ourselves, and the world.

In the coming year, Van Heemstra will focus on her new project De Nacht-Wacht, in which she combines ecology, poetry and neighborhood stories. Together with a group of neighbors, Van Heemstra visits the darkest spot in Amsterdam and explores what the loss of nocturnal darkness means for our society as well as for our ecosystem. In 2022, the show resulting from this project will tour.

About Klaas Kuitenbrouwer

Klaas Kuitenbrouwer
Klaas Kuitenbrouwer

Klaas Kuitenbrouwer is a historian, artist and researcher Digital Culture at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. Since 2002, he has also been teaching media and other theory at the Rietveld Academy.

Kuitenbrouwer studied history at the University of Utrecht and developed an art practice that moved into the field of digital culture. Since the late 90s he works at the crossroads of culture, technology and ecology. He researches, curates and moderates event in these fields. Some of his projects include The Garden of Machines (2015), 51Sprints (2016), the co-curated the Neuhaus Temporary Academy for more-than-human knowledge (2019), and Gardening Mars (2017). Currently, he is developing a zoöp project, a legal format for collaboration between humans and collective bodies of nonhumans. A consistent element in his work is the intersection of different knowledge practices: technological, artistic, legal, scientific and nonhuman.

About series ‘Life on Mars’

Would you like to live on Mars? For ages, humans have been fascinated with outer space, imagining and investigating what the stars and planets might teach us about the origin of our universe, the conditions of life, the existence of alien life and travelling and living out there. In a century or so, it seems likely that we will reach and be able to live upon the planet closest by: Mars. Already, rovers from different nations are on Mars to discover whether there is or was life, and whether we could live there. The exploration of Mars, however, is not only a pursuit out of scientific curiosity, but it is meshed up with dreams of pioneering new worlds, geopolitical motives and commercial interests, worries about our survival, and awareness of Earth’s beauty, and its vulnerability. As much as it is a perspective beyond Earth, Mars research invites us to look back upon it. In this series we explore some of the layers of the mission to discover life, and what it's like to live, on Mars. What makes it such a fascinating, mind-blowing endeavor? What insights can we gather from Mars research, also for our lives here on Earth? Or does a focus on Mars distract us from more pressing matters here? Should we go there? And who will be, and will not be, going to Mars?

Registration Instructions

Registration for Live Attendance in Impulse (on-campus):

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