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About the Archive

The Research

ARCHIVE AD ASTRA is a research project led by Adryon Kozel, a PhD candidate in Anthropology at University College London, and co-curated with their research participants from different space communities in the US and Europe. 

Adryon is a member of the European Research Council-funded project ETHNO-ISS, a five-year, multi-sited anthropological study of the International Space Station through wider associated communities on Earth. Adryon researches how space enthusiasts cultivate particular identities and communities to prefigure the 'space cultures' of futures they hope to see, through storytelling, space community events, and personal training, such as participating in analog missions and SpaceKind courses. Primarily, this research has taken place with members of two broad and often-overlapping communities: the Analog Astronaut Community and SpaceKind. 

At the heart of this work, Adryon explores how 'enthusiasm' can be conceptualised as a social, vital energy which can be circulated between people and materialised through personal objects. ARCHIVE AD ASTRA is inspired by Raf Schacter's work on curation as an anthropological method (2021), and researches both the process of creating the exhibition together with research participants, and the stories embodied and shared via personal objects.

Participants and Method

The terms ‘space enthusiast’ and ‘space community’ mean different things to different people and should be understood as a loose descriptor of someone who is passionate about space. Each person contributed their own objects, a method of collecting which has allowed each to become a co-curator whose selections have shaped the collection’s themes and presentation. The object biographies have largely been produced through interviews, preserving the speaker’s original voice while acknowledging a degree of interpretation through the editorial process.

In addition to those who contributed their objects and stories to the collection, ARCHIVE AD ASTRA was made possible by the longer-term involvement and guidance of a curatorial circle:

- Dr Deepa Bangaru-Raju
- Josephine F. Dickinson
- Jenia Gorbanenko
- Gerald Sim
- Brenda Trinidad

The ARCHIVE AD ASTRA exhibition and events series is funded by the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies Octagon Small Grants Fund, which supports interdisciplinary research led by UCL graduate students and early-career researchers. Special thanks to Delphine Mercier, the curator at UCL Anthropology, for use of the exhibition space and invaluable assistance.

Add to the Archive

This is a living, growing project and we hope to gather more stories of how space enthusiasm is intertwined in personal lives around the world. If you have a personal belonging that you would like to include in the archive, please send a photo and story to Adryon. The archive will remain online until at least 2025 as a resource.

For more information on this project, please email adryon.kozel.18@ucl.ac.uk.