A Mexican Conquest of Space? Cosmopolitanism, Cosmopolitics, and Cosmopoetics in the Mexican Space Industry


Mexico cannot be considered a 'spacefaring nation,' as it does not have the capability to build or launch space crafts into orbit. However, for many engineers, scientists, students, and entrepreneurs, outer space represents an important opportunity for economic development and job creation, as well as the resolution of earthly social problems, and a means to globally position the Mexican technology sector. Although they rely on international agreements for scientific, technical, and logistical collaboration, many of these space enthusiasts allude to a “Mexican Conquest of Space,” a discursively potent term given Mexico’s colonial history. In this paper, I examine how Mexican imaginaries of outer space, tied to perceptions of past knowledge, present social issues and future projections, are limited by geopolitical realities, even as they are informed by cosmic imaginaries at various scales. I focus on the recently created Mexican Space Agency, its programs, practices, discourses and alliances, as a starting point for a Mexican astronoetics, a term coined by the philosopher Hans Blumenberg during the Space Race in an attempt to balance the centripetal and centrifugal forces exerted by outer space. From this perspective, I reflect on the ways in which being tethered to Mexico influences the possibility of being untethered to Earth.


Mexico; Outer space; Cosmopolitics; Cosmopolitanism; Social imaginary; Astronoetics

Arendt, Hannah. “The Conquest of Space and the Stature of Man.” New Atlantis, núm. 18, 2007[1963], pp. 43-55. www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-conquest-of-space-and-the-stature-of-man.

Arreola Santander, Mario. “Astronautas del Programa Apolo en México.” Hacia el espacio, vol. 79, 2017. haciaelespacio.aem.gob.mx/revistadigital/articul.php?interior=523

Balibar, Étienne. Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology, trans. Steven Miller. Fordham UP, 2017.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton UP, 2000.

Durrani, Haris A. “The Bogotá Declaration: A Global Uprising?” 2018 blogs.law.columbia.edu/uprising1313/haris-a-durrani-the-bogota-declaration-a-global-uprising/?cn-reloaded=1

González de Bustamante, Celeste. “Muy Buenas Noches:” Mexico, Television and the Cold War. University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

Gura, Trisa. “Citizen Science: Amateur Experts.” Nature, vol. 496, 2013. pp. 259-261. www.nature.com/articles/nj7444-259a.

Harries, Karsten. Infinity and Perspective. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001.

Heidegger, Martin. “‘Only a God Can Save Us’: The Spiegel Interview.” In Heidegger: The Man and the Thinker. Edited by Thomas Sheehan. Transaction Publishers, 2011[1976], pp. 45-67.

Hernández Moreno, José. El cosechador de estrellas. Grupo Editorial Patria, 2011.

Ingold, Tim. “Globes and Spheres: The Topology of Environmentalism.” The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Routledge, 2000.

Kohut, Matthew. “Shaping the Space Age: The International Geophysical Year.” Ask Magazine. NASA vol. 32, pp. 29-30. appel.nasa.gov/2008/09/01/shaping-the-space-age-the-international-geophysical-year/

Krige, John. “Fifty Years of NASA and the World.” NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space, edited by John Krige, Angelina Long Callahan and Ashok Maharaj. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 3-22.

Latour, Bruno. “Whose Cosmos, Which Cosmopolitics?” Common Knowledge, vol. 10, no. 3, 2004, pp. 450-452.

Listner, Michael. “The Moon Treaty: Failed International Law or Waiting in the Shadows?” The Space Review. Monday, October 24, 2011, https://www.thespacereview.com/article/1954/1.

Matthews, Gordon, Gustavo Lins Ribeiro and Carlos Alba Vega, editors. Globalization from Below: The World’s Other Economy. Routledge, 2012.

Messeri, Lisa. Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds. Duke UP Books, 2016.

Mignolo, Walter. “Cosmopolitan Localism: A Decolonial Shifting of Kantian’s Legacies.” Localities, vol. 1, 2011, pp. 11-45.

Montaño Barbosa, Alejandro. “La trayectoria de México en la exploración espacial.” 2015. www.cienciamx.com/index.php/ciencia/universo/4714-historia-de-la-astronautica-en-mexico-del-sputnik-i-a-la-agencia-espacial-mexicana.

Nieto, Raul. “Trabajo en la globalidad hegemónica. Performance laboral en México y Guatemala.” Revista Andaluza de Antropología, núm. 11, 2016, pp. 15-43. dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5666545

Olson, Valerie. Intro the Extreme: U. S. Environmental Systems and Politics beyond Earth. University of Minnesota Press, 2018.

ProMéxico. Plan de Órbita 2.0. Mapa de Ruta del Sector Espacial Mexicano. 2017. www.promexico.gob.mx/documentos/biblioteca/plan-orbita.pdf.

Ramos, Maricarmen. Siqueiros humanista: La Marcha de la Humanidad. Ibukku, 2016.

Ribeiro, Gustavo Lins. “Post-imperialism: A Latin American Cosmopolitics.” In Brazil and the Americas: Convergences and Persepectives, ed Peter Birle, Sérgio Costa and Horst Nitschack. Madrid and Frankfurt: Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2008, pp. 31-50.

Robbins, Bruce. “Introduction Part I: Actually Existing Cosmopolitanisms.” In Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation. Edited by Bruce Robbins and Pheng Cheah. University of Minnesota Press, 1998, pp. 1-19.

Robbins, Bruce and Paulo Lemos Horta. “Introduction.” In Cosmopolitanisms. New York UP, 2017, pp. 1-20.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravoty. “Planetarity.” Death of a Discipline. Columbia UP, 2003, pp. 71-102.

Stengers, Isabelle. “The Cosmopolitan Question.” Cosmopolitics II. The University of Minnesota Press, 2011, pp. 351-362.

Urrutia Fucugauchi, Jaime. “El Año Geofísico Internacional 1957-1958 y los programas de investigación interdisciplinaria en el inicio del siglo XXI”. GEOS, June 1999, pp. 128-131. ugm.org.mx/publicaciones/geos/pdf/geos99-2/geofisico-19-2.pdf

Valentine, David. “Exit Strategy: Profit, Cosmology, and the Future of Humans in Space.” Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 85, no. 4, 2012, pp. 1045-1067. muse.jhu.edu/article/488890

Vosniadou, Stella and Andrew Ortony. “Similarity and Analogical Reasoning: A Synthesis.” Similarity and Analogical Reasoning. Edited by Stella Vosniadou y Andrew Ortony. Cambridge UP, 1989, pp. 1-18.





Published : 2020-12-31

JohnsonA. (2020). A Mexican Conquest of Space? Cosmopolitanism, Cosmopolitics, and Cosmopoetics in the Mexican Space Industry. Review of International American Studies, 13(2), 123-144. https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.9808

Anne Warren Johnson  anne.johnson@ibero.mx
Universidad Iberoamericana  Mexico

Anne W. Johnson (PhD University of Texas at Austin 2009) is a Full Professor and Researcher at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Her research interests include the anthropology of outer space, social studies of science and technology, performance studies and collective memory. She has published on Mexican outer space culture, historical commemoration in the state of Guerrero, and the relations between performance and representation. Her latest book is Diablos, insurgentes e indios: Política y Poética de la historia en el Norte de Guerrero (Secretary of Culture/National Institute of Anthropology and History, Mexico, 2016). Her current reserach revolves around scientific, political and artistic imaginaries of outer space in Mexico.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Copyright Holder of the submitted text is the Author. The Reader is granted the rights to use the material available in the RIAS websites and pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0). Any commercial use requires separate written agreement with the Author and a proper credit line indicating the source of the original publication in RIAS.

  1. License

The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY 4.0 license.

  1. Author’s Warranties

The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.

If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution - By the same conditions 4.0 International".

ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).

  1. User Rights

Under the Creative Commons Attribution license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

  1. Co-Authorship

If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.

I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.