SCELG launches Research on Outer Space Law

August 2018: Dr Saskia Vermeylen has been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme fellowship (2019-2021) to develop a new research strand in SCELG in the area of law and arts with regard to outer space governance. The study explores utopian literatures as sources of legal imagination and speculative jurisprudence with the main aim to reform current international space law. Saskia will be spending time at various research institutes across Europe to explore deeper links between humanities and law by visiting specialized libraries, doing internships in arts institutes and observing meetings at the United Nations and the European Space Agency.

As part of this strand of research, Saskia has been collaborating with Dr Dylan McGarry from Rhodes University (South Africa) to incubate the Institute of Uncanny Justness. The Insitute is a school for ecological citizens consisting of a trans-disciplinary practice-based social learning collaborations between journalists, researchers, educational practitioners, artists, social sculptors, filmmakers, poets, mediafolk, social development practitioners and educational theorists. Saskia and Dylan have performed together ‘La cucaracha in Space’ at The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June 2018. For the performance, Saskia wrote a short story about the history of space travel, combining fiction and non-fiction as a way to question and challenge our ethical and normative values when governing space travel. The performance was constructed around various forms of embodied immersions through video installations, musical experiments and shadow puppetry. The short story is now being rewritten as an illustrated storybook for children.

Research-led teaching

Dr Vermeylen teaches on the LLM in Global Environmental Law and Governance, which benefits from her research findings. Saskia and Dylan contributed to the Postgraduate Colloquium and to the workshop on oceans governance at the Second Festival of Environmental Law and Governance in 2018.

Find out more about Saskia’s research on outer space governance here and watch the video of her public lecture at the First Festival of Environmental Law and Governance in 2017 here.