This book is about how people find and relate to one another around the
idea of extraterrestrial life and ufos. It is also a kind of artifact of that pro-
cess. Most of those who have contributed chapters first came together at the
2002 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, in a
session on ‘‘The Anthropology of Outerspaces.’’ Inspired by imaginaries of
contact with other worlds—which is of course likewise a signature theme
of the discipline—our papers gave voice to subjects’ questions about what it
means to be human in a universe of fabulously different entities and times
of swarming informatic flows of unknown origin. While our approaches
were methodologically, geopolitically, and even disciplinarily diverse, our
presentations on that occasion converged at points where science, magic,
and religion flowed into and through one another, unsettling their bound-
aries and revealing the innerspaces of ‘‘alternative’’ seekers.
The creativity of the moment proved to be contagious. In part owing
to the attention of our discussants, Jodi Dean and Susan Harding, schol-
ars in the audience afterwards offered papers of their own for publication
in any future volume. Some others who had harbored an interest in extra-
terrestrial discourse were persuaded to contribute new essays, off-center of
their specialty fields, after hearing about the session. As the volume took
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