Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the 2008–2009 Great Recession, and ash clouds 2 —none of these had hit home as hard as did the coronavirus pandemic. A perfunctory look at the situation in October 2020 reveals the severity of aviation's—especially international
Commercial aviation has played a significant economic, political, and symbolic role in Latin America–not only propelling economic development, but also helping to the processes of territorial integration and sovereign state construction. Despite the important role that commercial aviation has played in countries like Argentina, it has not received much attention from academic historians. This essay reviews the few works done on Latin American and Argentine aviation history but mainly proposes a research agenda, based on the Argentine case, for the study of the history of Latin American aeromobility from a social, cultural, technological, economic and political perspective.
Janet R. Bednarek
Aviation inspires far less historical scholarship than other major forms of transportation technology, especially automobiles and trains—and even space travel. In the years leading up to the centennial of powered flight in 2003 there were some efforts by Dom Pisano, Roger Launius and others both to refine and expand the parameters of the field and suggest emerging research questions. Yet aviation history has remained a small subfield within broader areas of interest, such as military, technology, transportation and business history. More recently, to some degree in response to the efforts of Pisano and Launius, work has been done within social, cultural and urban history, and gender studies. So while the field has been and remains hard to pin down, nonetheless interesting—if sometimes isolated—work continues.
Michael J. Neufeld
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) remains one of the world’s most visited museums precisely because it embodies the “romance of technological progress.” From its origins in the US National Museum of the early twentieth century to the opening of its first dedicated building in 1976 and beyond, visitors have flocked to the NASM to see exhibits on the wonders of aerospace technology. An attempt to depart from that narrative in the 1990s by telling the story of the atomic bombings of Japan was crushed by an organized campaign. In the aftermath, the museum reverted to its old pattern, albeit broadened to include greater diversity in the historical actors it featured. Today, as NASM rebuilds its original building, it is again striving, albeit more cautiously, to stretch the limits of its traditional mission.
A closer look at military pilots promises new insights into processes of automation, changing man-machine relations, and the cultural and political meaning of these experiences. The review of recent scholarship is combined with concrete historical examples. By drawing from the German case between the two world wars, the author discusses how the material and cultural experience of flight can be investigated and which new directions such an approach makes possible.
M. William Steele
This article reviews recent scholarship on Asian mobility, focusing on the influence of the prewar Japanese empire on the mobility (and immobility) of people, goods, and ideas in Asia today. Prewar Japanese technicians, engineers, and politicians built highways, aviation systems, electricity grids, and communication networks seeking to create new levels of transnational mobility and human integration. Nonetheless, unlike Europe, this infrastructure failed to stimulate movements toward Asian integration. Mobility scholars, east and west, should be interested in the divergences between Asia and Europe in dealing with the construction and use of emerging transnational infrastructures since World War II.
Marielle Stigum Gleiss and Weiqiang Lin
Historical research has recently found new interest in aviation and aeromobilities. Though productive, these discussions have mostly concentrated on knowledge frames emanating from the 'West.' This article surveys the limited range of literatures that highlight how 'other' societies perceive and (re)appropriate flight. In particular, we refer to examples from Asia to demonstrate that actors from this region likewise interact with ideas of aerial imperialism, geopolitical struggles, and nationalism. These studies prompt key historiographical questions on power, agency, and relations between the West and the non-West. They also promote a scholarship that is more reflexive about its centers of knowledge.
Jason Lim, Anne-Katrin Ebert, Jennifer Reut, Ernie Mellegers, Malcolm Tull, Liz Millward, Stéphanie Ponsavady, Patricia Lejoux, Nanny Kim, William Philpott, and Steven D. Spalding
Pál Nyíri, Mobility and Cultural Authority in Contemporary China (Jason Lim)
Friedrich von Borries, ed., Berliner Atlas paradoxaler Mobilität (Anne-Katrin Ebert)
Toni Morrison, Home (Jennifer Reut)
Antonio Amado, Voiture Minimum, Le Corbusier and the Automobile (Ernie Mellegers)
Kurt Stenross, Madurese Seafarers. Prahus, Timber and Illegality on the Margins of the Indonesian State (Malcolm Tull)
Gordon Pirie, Cultures and Caricatures of British Imperial Aviation: Passengers, Pilots, Publicity (Liz Millward)
Christine R. Yano, Airborne Dreams: “Nisei“ Stewardesses and Pan American World Airways (Stéphanie Ponsavady)
Christophe Gay, Vincent Kaufmann, Sylvie Landriève, Stéphanie Vincent-Geslin, eds., Mobile/Immobile: Quels choix, quels droits pour 2030/Choices and Rights for 2030 (Patricia Lejoux)
Zhang Ellen Cong, Transformative Journeys: Travel and Culture in Song China (Nanny Kim)
Susan Sessions Rugh, Are We There Yet? The Golden Age of American Family Vacations (William Philpott)
Justin D. Edwards and Rune Graulund, Mobility at Large: Globalization, Textuality and Innovative Travel Writing (Steven D. Spalding)
In some respects, the history of aviation in Canada has been capably told. Historians have extolled air travel and the accelerated mobility it has offered Canadians, helping them overcome natural geographic barriers and knitting together the country’s disparate regions. But what has not been satisfactorily acknowledged is the global historical story of Canada and commercial air travel during the dawn and maturation of jet travel beginning in the late 1950s. The jet age made air travel a quintessentially global mode of mass transportation, expanding and intensifying connections between distant locales like never before. Canada was not immune to these developments; transoceanic air passenger traffic rose sharply from the 1960s, particularly to and from its major cities. The jet age thus constitutes a pivotal phase in the history of Canadian commercial air travel, having left a distinctive footprint on late twentieth-century Canada.
In the history of aeronautics, the balloon has long been regarded as relatively unimportant—or even excluded from the field; “lighter-than-air” technology (to use the expression coined by Nadar) was considered a dead-end which may have delayed the arrival of airplanes at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, in the early years of aviation, both technologies were deeply interrelated on numerous levels, sharing the same milieu of entrepreneurs, pilots (for instance the remarkable Santos Dumont) and public enthusiasm. But the disappearance of dirigibles accompanies the construction of a heroic history of powered flight by the airplane as a symbol of modernity. However, the focus has recently shifted, through the work of eminent aviation historians such as Tom Crouch,1 and also because dirigible history has returned to the scene—for instance through the excellent studies of Guillaume de Syon who has stressed the popular and political mobilization that sustained the impressive development of this technology from the last decade of the nineteenth century until the 1930s. From the point of view of the aeronautics community (lobbies, technicians and publicists), 1880s dirigibles were a technology of the future that inherited a longstanding culture originating in the first aerostatic experiments at the end of the eighteenth century. If balloons could not yet be steered, aerial displacement was indeed a practical technique applied in races and experiments, and associated with learned societies, conferences and shows. Such endeavors nourished public expectations, political investments and, with the introduction of the dirigible, even fostered an institutional regulatory framework in the first international aerial law, as in the international conference at La Haye in 1899.