Peter Dickens is Visiting Senior Research Associate, University of Cambridge, U.K. He has held academic positions at the Universities of Brighton, Essex and Sussex and has authored or co-authored ten books. These have all been broadly concerned with the relationships between society, space and the environment.
Current research is on the relationships between society and outer space. Societies have always been formed in a relationship with the rest of the universe. But our relationships with outer space are now rapidly changing as a result of developments in satellite communications and imaging, space exploration and tourism, military space technology, and cosmology itself.
His most recent book, co-edited with James Ormrod, is The Palgrave Handbook of Society, Culture and Outer Space. This brings together scholarship from a range of disciplines including geography, economics, history, international relations, sociology, philosophy, science and technology studies, law, cultural astronomy, anthropology, media studies, literary studies, psychological studies and art. This combination of disciplines shows the extent to which outer space is now being ‘socialised’. Outer space is no longer just ‘a wild blue yonder’. Rather, it is intimately caught up in the economic processes, political struggles, technological developments, imaginaries and scientific developments which constitute everyday life back on Earth.
Peter Dickens is continuing his work on outer space. He is examining how power- relations are reflected in, and concealed by, visual representations of the cosmos. He is also examining the contradictions between popular representations of the astronaut and the real dangers to health resulting from long distance space travel. Stemming in part from his work on the 'high frontier' of outer space, he is now addressing the general issue of frontiers, boundaries and their implications for social change.
A recent book describes Peter’s research and its links to the work of his colleagues. This is Ormrod, J.S. (ed) (2016) Changing Our Environment, Changing Ourselves. London, Palgrave.