By Mimi Sheller
Aluminum formed the 20 th century. It enabled high-speed go back and forth and gravity-defying flight. It was once the fabric of a streamlined aesthetic that got here to symbolize modernity. And it turned an important aspect in commercial and family items that ranged from airplanes and autos to dressmaker chairs and synthetic Christmas timber. It entered sleek houses as packaging, foil, pots and pans or even infiltrated bodies via nutrition, medication, and cosmetics. In Aluminum Dreams, Mimi Sheller describes how the materiality and that means of aluminum remodeled glossy existence and keeps to form the realm this day.
Aluminum, Sheller tells us, replaced mobility and mobilized sleek lifestyles. It enabled air energy, the distance age and moon landings. but, as Sheller makes transparent, aluminum used to be vital not just in twentieth-century know-how, innovation, structure, and layout but in addition in underpinning worldwide army strength, asymmetric improvement, and the most important environmental and well-being matters. Sheller describes aluminum's glossy utopia but additionally its darkish part. The accidental outcomes of aluminum's frequent use comprise struggles for sovereignty and source regulate in Africa, India, and the Caribbean; the unleashing of establishment companies; and the pollutants of the earth via mining and smelting (and the conflict to avoid wasting it). utilizing a unmarried fabric as an access aspect to knowing a world historical past of modernization and its implications for the long run, Aluminum goals forces us to invite: How can we gather the fabric tradition of modernity and what are its environmental effects?
Aluminum Dreams incorporates a beneficiant collection of outstanding pictures of iconic aluminum designs, many in colour, drawn from ads by means of Alcoa, Bohn, Kaiser, and different significant agencies, pamphlets, movies, and exhibitions.
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Extra info for Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity
In many countries the industry has been able to externalize environmental costs, leaving the cleanup to future generations. In relation to mining operations, something like the US superfund program to clean up toxic waste and heavily polluted areas left across the country by former industries could perhaps be implemented internationally to assess and address the effects of bauxite mining, alumina plants, and hydropower dams. Yet even within the United States the actual cleanup of superfund sites has been painfully slow and often simply unachievable.
Part I focuses mainly on the bright side of how aluminum became a modernizing metal, transforming the speed, lightness, and mobility of the industrialized world in the Global North, and especially the United States, even as it entailed a massive military buildup with huge environmental and social consequences. Part II focuses more on the dark side of how bauxite mining and the operations of transnational corporations affect developing countries and postsocialist countries in key transition periods, bringing pollution, environmental degradation, and political turmoil around the world.
These PFCs have global warming potentials that are 6,500 to 9,200 times higher than carbon dioxide. • 300 kWh of electricity are conserved for each aluminum can that is recycled, enough to run a 100-watt bulb for three hours. • 660 degrees Celsius is the melting point of aluminum. That’s a lot of electricity and it has to come from somewhere. aluminum as a recyclable “green metal” that can contribute to new sustainable technologies. Thus brightness and darkness run as counterpoints throughout this book, mirroring various other juxtapositions: the rhetorical “hype cycles” around the promise of this “miracle metal” versus deep disappointment in it as an ersatz cheap substitution for better things;52 the charges of antismelter activists of alleged “greenwashing” by industry brand management versus the corporate social responsibility managers who describe aluminum as a useful Introduction 29 “energy bank” and a “green metal” that improves the efficiency of transport systems; the ethereal lightness of modernity’s dreams of mobility and faster communication, on the one hand, and the heavy burdens of the weight of modernization, the gritty labors of mining, and the destructive power of weaponry, on the other.
Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity by Mimi Sheller