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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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(p.67) 4 Planes
Empire in the Air

Chandra D. Bhimull

NYU Press

Chapter 4 concentrates on how people learned to be in and live with ordinary flight through the everyday sky. Focused on air passage itself, it explores how a flying culture took hold and examines the affective dimensions of airline travel. Analyzing air travel stories, it chronicles what first-generation fliers did and felt inside early airline cabins. The vertical distance between the airplane and the ground profoundly altered the ways air passengers related to colonial landscapes and lives beneath them. The second part of the chapter illuminates how black people on the ground reacted to white people in the sky, and vice versa. It connects the emergence of everyday air travel practices to the upward expansion of empire. The last part of the chapter brings the history of white flight and racial segregation to present-day discussions of aerial mobility and the varying experiences of frequent and infrequent fliers.

Keywords:   aerial mobility, affect, distance, flying culture, frequent flier, segregation, stories, white flight

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