Chakad’s project enquires into Sweden’s ongoing initiatives to develop small satellite launch capability. In this context, he is interested in engagements with outer space as an arena for projection, experimentation, and infrastructural possibility, able to support and/or limit human existence on Earth. In Sweden low Earth orbit is increasingly being framed as a key infrastructural domain for climate research. Yet, the increasing reliance on outer space infrastructures also means that space weather and orbital debris present new risks to critical, ground-based infrastructural systems. It is in response to these and other developments that Sweden now aims to strengthen independent access to low Earth orbit and offer infrastructural services for the international scientific community, space agencies, and commercial actors. This is undertaken for instance by branding the northern city of Kiruna as a ‘Space Town’, which by virtue of its arctic position, relatively unoccupied airspace, and vast geographical surroundings, promises to bring outer space closer to Earth. Through long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Stockholm and Kiruna, Chakad will examine the making and reshaping of on/off Earth ecologies through various forms of infrastructural mediation, asking what happens to social and environmental relations when confronted by the extraterrestrial as an infrastructural phenomenon.
Before joining the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Chakad completed his PhD in social anthropology at the University of Manchester. His PhD fieldwork centred on fog capture and atmospheric attunements in coastal Peru. He enquired into the work of local actors who engaged fog as a material possibility that could be captured and transformed into water, primarily in the context of urban fog oasis conservation, water infrastructure, and informal urbanisation. Chakad’s doctoral thesis was awarded an RAI/Sutasoma Award for Research of Outstanding Merit, and his research has been published in journals such as Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, and Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.