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date: 17 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how the light yet strong metal aluminium shaped modern material cultures around practices and ideologies of speed and mobility. Aluminium-based light modernity became definitive of the twentieth century through both military air power and innovative civil applications, informing modernist visions of a streamlined future. The archaeology of metallic modernity opens up a space for thinking about the material remains that contemporary cultures of mobility have left on the Earth, and beyond, in outer space. By tracing the infiltration of this unique metal into the material cultures of modernity the chapter uncovers a layer of modern artefacts-buildings, aircraft, vehicles, appliances, satellites-that express a certain moment in human existence, and also express that period’s hopes for the future of humanity.

Keywords: aluminium, modernity, speed, mobility, air power, material culture, outer space, satellites

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