Eurograd message

Message posted on 10/06/2024

Talk: Reka Gal "SpaceX's Staircase, or Breaking Things on the Rio Grande and Beyond" Maintenance & Philosophy of Technology SIG, Thursday June 13th 1800-1915 UTC+1

Dear all,

Hope this email finds everyone well. We’d like to announce the next session of the SPT Maintenance and Philosophy of Technology SIG this coming Thursday. In this session, we’re excited to welcome Reka Gal who’ll critically reflecting on the common associations between sustainability and maintenance within the recent "repair turn" in infrastructure studies. Her talk aims to provide a much needed counterbalance against persistence tendencies towards the romanticisation of maintenance, by examining the human and environmental harms which emerge as a result of the maintenance of SpaceX’s launch site in Texas. You’ll find the abstract for the talk below - if you'd like a link send me an email at

Best, Mark

SpaceX's Staircase, or Breaking Things on the Rio Grande and Beyond

Reka Gal (University of Toronto)

Thursday 13th June 2024 (1800-1915 UTC+1)

Abstract: This talk considers the environmental injustice of SpaceX’s recently constructed launch site in Boca Chica, Texas – colloquially referred to as “Starbase” –, which is located on the traditional lands of the Est’ok Gna tribe. I argue that the dynamics of this launch site are both built upon twin tactics of refusing care and preventing care: of instituting technological regimes and lobbying for state and federal policies that allow the company to cause harm to the environment without being held responsible for mitigating these harms, while also preventing the Indigenous and non-Indigenous locals from mitigating these harms and working towards restoring the environment. Through the case study in this talk, I caution against equating a focus on technological maintenance and repair as inherently focused on sustainability. The recent “repair-turn” within Infrastructure Studies has brought increasing attention to the repair needs of urban infrastructures to technologies. Rightfully, several scholars have pointed out the potential of a focus on technological and infrastructural repair and maintenance can counteract capitalist technological culture’s focus on producing and discarding items (Jackson 2014; Mattern 2018). However, as this talk shows, in order to center sustainable futures, considerations of repair and maintenance work must extend beyond the technological and consider how the maintenance of specific infrastructures influences the care of the environment. Because the operation of Starbase is reliant on not only resisting but also preventing environmental care, focusing on the maintenance of the technological infrastructure would simply mean extending the life cycle of an infrastructure that does not address, but rather exacerbates effects of climate change. I point towards the Indigenous and environmental resistance and activism in the area, together with the Est’ok Gna care of the Land, as potent and collective acts of care and repair work: future-oriented activities that aim to care for the integrity of the entanglement of local ecologies, Indigenous peoples, and other humans and nonhumans.

(In order to avoid confusion regarding the timing of the talks - the following table clarifies when the talks begin in different locations)

Amsterdam 7:00pm London 6:00pm Toronto (New York) 1:00pm San Francisco 10:00am

Mark Thomas Young Associate Professor University of Bergen

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