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Aerial Life: Spaces, Mobilities, Affects

ISBN: 978-1-4051-8262-1
296 pages
May 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Aerial Life: Spaces, Mobilities, Affects (1405182628) cover image



This theoretically informed research explores what the development and transformation of air travel has meant for societies and individuals.

  • Brings together a number of interdisciplinary approaches towards the aeroplane and its relation to society
  • Presents an original theory that our societies are aerial societies, or 'aerealities', and shows how we are both enabled and threatened by aerial mobility
  • Features a series of detailed international case studies which map the history of aviation over the past century - from the promises of early flight, to World War II bombing campaigns, and to the rise of international terrorism today
  • Demonstrates the transformational capacity of air transport to shape societies, bodies and individual identities
  • Offers startling historical evidence and bold new ideas about how the social and material spaces of the aeroplane are considered in the modern era
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Table of Contents

Figures and Tables ix

Series Editors’ Preface x

Acknowledgements xi

1 Introduction 1

Prologue 1

Overview 6

Aerial Life 8

Powering Up Aerial Geographies 13

The Organization of the Book 21

Part One Becoming Aerial 23

2 Birth of the Aerial Body 25

Introduction 25

Beginnings 28

‘Handsome Is as Handsome Does’: Disassembling the Aerial Body 30

The Flesh of the Aerial Youth 41

Simulation 45

Conclusion 52

3 The Projection and Performance of Airspace 54

Introduction 54

Building a Political Space: Identity, Boundedness and the Sanctity of Territory 57

Undoing Aerial Space: Post-nationalism and Projective Power 70

Conclusion 80

Part Two Governing Aerial Life 83

4 Aerial Views: Bodies, Borders and Biopolitics 85

Introduction 85

Seeing the Wood for the Trees: Targeting, Administering and Managing Populations 86

Techniques of the Observer/Observed 103

Three-Dimensional Vision 109

Conclusion 113

5 Profiling Machines 114

Introduction 114

Imagining the Pilot/Passenger 117

Sorting 124

Modifying 132

Conclusion 144

Part Three Aerial Aggression 145

6 Aerial Environments 147

Introduction 147

The Emergence of a Target 149

Systems, Circulations and Ecological Warfare 161

Air Conditioning 170

Conclusion 177

7 Subjects under Siege 179

Warning 179

Introduction 181

The Anatomy of Panic 185

Imaginations and Urgencies 189

Vigilance and the Social as Circuit 191

Entrainment 198

Conclusion 205

8 Conclusion 206

Environments 207

Futures 208

Aerial Turns 209

Notes 211

Bibliography 228

Index 255

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Author Information

Peter Adey is Lecturer in Cultural Geography at Keele University, Staffordshire, England. His research interests include the study of mobility and cultures of aviation and security. Adey is the author of Mobility (2009).
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''Peter Adey is a clear, strong, inventive, unique voice in human geography. In Aerial Life, he brings together a fascinating set of theoretical concerns and empirical cases in his inimitable style, with a gravity of purpose and a lightness of touch that makes for an incredibly rich book.'
—Mark B. Salter, University of Ottawa

‘By extending critical human geography to the complex verticalities of airspace, Peter Adey offers a vitally important riposte to the long neglect of aerial cultural politics in the social sciences. Aerial Life is a brilliant tour de force. Incisive, comprehensive, fresh and, above all, topical - this is the book which can guide us as we address the geographies of the aerial.’
—Stephen Graham, Newcastle University


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