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Seminar CAS Antropologi

Departmental Seminar: Tina Harris

It’s Not Easy Being Green: Technology, Sustainability, and Time in Aviation

Info about event


Wednesday 5 May 2021,  at 13:00 - 15:00
[Translate to English:] Tina Harris, University of Amsterdam


Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the skies were crowded and airports were nearing full capacity. Much of the global aviation industry was focused on solving the pressures of congestion and growth by making use of new technologies to ‘stretch’ airspace, build airports, and slot in more take-off and landing times in order to accommodate more aircraft in the sky. Now airports lie dormant, the industry is in an unprecedented economic downfall, while the climate crisis remains dire. What is air travel going to look like over the next decade? By exploring some ethnographic examples of new technologies that aim to ‘optimise’ post-Covid flight in sustainable ways – such as new ways of piloting and managing air traffic that are designed to cut down on emissions, and robots that help aircraft taxi on the runway with less fuel – I show how discussions about shifts in future aviation planning work to both exacerbate and smooth over tensions between new technologies, cost-cutting, and sustainability targets. As aviation personnel grapple with these dilemmas, I argue that they are also transforming what space is and entangling it with time in novel ways. This talk is based on an article-in-progress, and is intended to open up wider discussions that draw together debates on the anthropology of infrastructure, time, climate, technology, and global capital.