Settlement or Colonization in Space, Which One Is More Humanistic?

In the future, we're expected to have sites on other planets, and the conflict about it is that if they should be called settlement or colonization.
Nursah Ergü

It's certain that in the future we'll start to settle in different planets. Creating different sites on different planets is one of the aims of scientists right now. The purpose of the SpaceX is to establish a permanent site on Mars. And right now, there's a discussion about this subject: Should we call these sites on other planets colonization or settlement?

Bill Nye, known as the Science Guy, suggests that these exploration activities should be named positively.

At the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Bill Nye said "In the planetary community, we discourage the use of the verb 'colonize.' We prefer 'settle.' Colonizing has gotten a bad rap, understandably."

Source: dottedhippo/iStock

The bad reputation of the word "colonization" arises from the violence and oppression that several colonizing acts caused on earth. Such as the Spanish in the Western Hemisphere, the English in North America, India, and Australia, and the Dutch in South Africa, the Caribbean and Indonesia, and many others. 

There are some other reasons why the words "colonize" and "colony" aren't suitable for usage. According to the Cambridge dictionary, "colony" means that a country or area controlled politically by a more powerful country that is often far away. But, that's not the description wanted to be used for the sites on Mars. "Settle" and "settlement" are more neutral descriptions.

But the latter terms have some bad reputations because these are associated with the Israeli government's controversial activities in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. 

Most Popular

That's why a number of scholars, exploration advocates, and others in the spaceflight community, don't want to be associated with the word "colonize." 

Source: gremlin/iStock

Last year a conference called "Decolonizing Mars" was organized by astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz. 

On the conference's website, it's said that "Many people are used to hearing about 'colonizing Mars' to talk about humanity living in space; here, we examine how using a colonialist framework in space reproduces past harm from humanity's history on Earth. This event is about envisioning fresh pathways for thinking about space exploration by stepping away from the ways we usually talk about space, which by definition is 'decolonizing' the topic. Hence, 'Decolonizing Mars.'"

It seems like the linguistic debate will continue until the first person sets foot on a different planet. Of course, the name will be decided according to the acts of the human. Is it more colonial or is it more about the settlement, we'll see. 

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron