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Empire in the AirAirline Travel and the African Diaspora$
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Chandra D. Bhimull

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479843473

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479843473.001.0001

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Speed

Speed

Chapter:
(p.45) 3 Speed
Source:
Empire in the Air
Author(s):

Chandra D. Bhimull

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479843473.003.0008

The third chapter connects rapidity, depth, and altitude to inequality and oppression. It questions how the notion of speed, which is a rate, lost its sense of slowness and became synonymous with fastness. It advocates for an understanding of speed that is culturally and historically informed. Aviation literally turned speed up at a time when access to technological advancements in the maritime world was generating new hopes for Pan Africanism. A temporal and spatial revolution, speed-up established new racial hierarchies. In Britain, government officials and airline executives were drawn to the advantages of direct straight-line travel. They planned to use commercial air power to fashion faster transportation flows between certain parts of the empire. Consequently, some people and places were selected to speed-up, which meant others were made to slow-down. The shift from land- and sea- to air-based movement radically altered the terrains of empire, giving rise to a new dimension and direction of structural inequality.

Keywords:   altitude, depth, fastness, inequality, rate, slow-down, slowness, speed, speed-up, straight-line

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