Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

<< Border Zones: Travel, Fantasy and Representation

Rites of Passage: The Airport as an Economy of Flows

Hannah Knox, Damian O'Doherty, Theo Vurdubakis, Chris Westrup (Lancaster University)



It is by now something of a commonplace that 'modernity' (whether late, high or post) is above all the era in which all that is solid is melting into air. Against this backdrop airports could be said to have a particular claim to our attention. The sages of late modernity from Rem Koolhaas to Pico Iyer and Manuel Castells, have celebrated airports as nodes in what Castells has termed a "space of flows". Indeed from the second half of the twentieth century onwards, airports have become obligatory points of passage. Airports are - among other things - sites where 'borders' are routinely encountered, or rather performed. As such they may be said reside in a liminal state of in-betweeness. For instance, as Sinclair and others have noted, airports are simultaneously borderlands and hinterlands, interzones of spatial and temporal ambiguity, hybridity and forced juxtaposition. Airports thus provide fascinating examples of the tensions of contemporary culture, being simultaneously central (hubs) and marginal (non-spaces as Auge, calls them), material and virtual, highly visible (as public spaces), and yet strangely opaque (consider the vast spaces of 'back-stage' areas, for example). Drawing on a diverse range of accounts (including inter alia social scientific texts, official documents, oral narratives, memoirs and architectural treatises) the paper focuses on enactment of the airport as a culturally ambivalent social space.

Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9. - 11. december 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-05