Media/ Meteōra

Authored by: Greg Siegel

The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138638938
eBook ISBN: 9781315637501
Adobe ISBN:


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Framed by a discussion of the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion of 2013, this chapter explores the ways—accidental as well as intentional—in which media technologies and risk-communication strategies articulate discourses and fantasies of planetary defense and planetary disaster. Using Michel Serres’s rehabilitation of ancient philosophical understandings of meteōra as a theoretical provocation and point of departure, it examines a range of security-related and surveillance-intensive responses to the speculative possibility of meteoric catastrophe. As a tool for conceptualizing the reciprocal modalities and mutual interferences that organize the scientific reckoning, the popular reception, and the digital circulation of potentially hazardous astronomical events, the chapter proposes the idea of a “media/meteor complex.” It also undertakes critical analyses of the ideological and institutional logics underpinning NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program and the affiliated risk infographic known as the Torino Impact Hazard Scale.

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