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Special Guest Lecture

2019/01/25 – Airspace Stories : Affectiv Infrastructuring in Asia

Lecture Information

  • SpeakerLin, Weiqiang (National University of Singapore)

Time : 2019/01/25 Fri. 15:00
Place : #1106, New Millennium Hall, Konkuk University

This talk interrogates the production of airspace as infrastructure for aeromobility. Using Singapore and the wider Southeast Asian region as an example, the paper seeks to re-understand airspace as a socially produced fact of life. Taking a mobilities approach, it contends that existing scholarship needs to develop a keener sensitivity to the ways in which air infrastructures like airspace are non-uniformly created around the world. Critiquing the tendency for aeromobilities, and, more generally, mobilities research to nearly exclusively focus on empirical paradigms emanating from North America, Scandinavia, and parts of Western Europe, the paper argues that the relative lack of attention to ‘other-worldly’ formations has universalised and reified the field after a Western mould. I suggest that these shortcomings have blunted (aero)mobilities research’s critical edge, by silencing the asymmetries of making move in a variety of contexts.

Reflecting on the importance of affect in airspace construction in Singapore, this presentation propounds a different understanding of airspace and air infrastructures. Informed by a wide range of investigative methods, including interviews, archival research and participant observation, it charts out four different airspace constellations: namely, aircraft cabins, airline route networks, aerial capacities, and air territories, and demonstrates how these are each constructed differently in Asia, yet relationally with other places. Through these formations, the paper highlights how airspaces figure as contingent and contested re-assemblings of dominant types, filtered through established cultural norms, laws, technologies, and institutional set-ups that order the global aviation industry. These insights instruct a need to contextualise how infrastructural spaces are produced, as well as point to the pertinence of learning about the latent geopolitics connecting different, and differently positioned, spaces and assemblages.