Earthrise +50: Apollo 8, Mead, Gore and Gaia

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Abstract

This article pivots from the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, the first manned voyage to the moon, to reflect on the impact of ‘earthrise’ - seeing earth from lunar orbit - and to reflect on the vision’s meanings in an extended cultural history. The emerging anthropology of space considers the ‘overview effect’ of seeing the world and all of humanity all at once, and contemporary disciplinary debates over figuring and responding to ecological crisis similarly operate on a holistic scale. Whereas the Apollo 8 crew first saw the earth emerge sideways from behind a vertical horizon, the vision is conventionally depicted as the earth rising up above the moon’s flat horizon - a rotation indicative of a wider cultural turn in perspective. The article traces the wider impact of ‘earthrise’ through Al Gore’s portrayal of ‘holography’, Margaret Mead’s search for a ‘macroscope’, and a Pacific astronaut’s reminder of the cultural diversity of ways to live in equivalence on earth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-10
Number of pages4
JournalAnthropology Today
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Earthrise
  • Apollo 8
  • Margaret Mead
  • Al Gore
  • Holography
  • Macroscope
  • Hawai’i

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