• Eternity in Low Earth Orbit: Icons on the International Space Station

    Author(s):
    Alice Gorman, Wendy Salmond, Justin Walsh (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Group(s):
    Anthropology, Archaeology, Digital Archaeology, Visual Anthropology
    Subject(s):
    Space archaeology, Russian culture, Iconography
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/hk2k-gf60
    Abstract:
    This paper investigates the material culture of icons on the International Space Station as part of a complex web of interactions between cosmonauts and the Russian Orthodox Church, reflecting contemporary terrestrial political and social aairs. An analysis of photographs from the International Space Station (ISS) demonstrated that a particular area of the Zvezda module is used for the display of icons, both Orthodox and secular, including the Mother of God of Kazan and Yuri Gagarin. The Orthodox icons are frequently sent to space and returned to Earth at the request of church clerics. In this process, the icons become part of an economy of belief that spans Earth and space. This practice stands in contrast to the prohibition against displaying political/religious imagery in the U.S.-controlled modules of ISS. The icons mark certain areas of ISS as bounded sacred spaces or hierotopies, separated from the limitless outer space beyond the space station walls.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    9 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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