Peopling Infrastructure: Aeromobilities, Automation and Labour Mobilisations in Asia
|Name of Recipent||Assistant Professor Lin Weiqiang
2018 Social Science and Humanities Research Fellowship Awardee
|Project Title||Peopling Infrastructure: Aeromobilities, Automation and Labour Mobilisations in Asia|
|Type of Grant||Social Science and Humanities Research Fellowship|
Asst Prof Lin Weiqiang is a leading mobilities geographer who specialises in the areas of air transport, logistics and the production of infrastructure and his work has been well-received internationally. Asst Prof Lin began this theorising work since 2013, when he co-convened a conference on Theorising Mobilities in/of Asia, in collaboration with the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Since then, his work has influenced a wide range of scholarship through critical reflections on air transport, including mobility studies, political geography, science and technology studies, urban studies and social theory. He currently sits on the editorial board of Mobilities, a leading journal of mobility studies, and is a section editor of Transfers.
Asst Prof Lin obtained his PhD in Geography from the University of London in 2014 and was appointed Assistant Professor at National University of Singapore, Department of Geography, in 2016.
With this research, Asst Prof Lin aims to understand the inner workings of the aviation industry and offer unique research insights on sustainable, responsible and humane maintenance of airport infrastructures. It will pay particular attention to four airport functions, namely (a) passenger formalities (check-in); (b) airside services (gate and connections); (c) baggage handling; and (d) apron logistics (tarmac operations). Specifically, the project will uncover the daily routines of workers in the aviation industry, how workers are incorporated into the aviation ecosystem, and how they interact with aviation technology.
Asst Prof Lin will study operations and infrastructures of airports in four cities – Beijing, Dubai, Jakarta and Singapore. The study employs a number of methods: interviews with airport workers and managerial-level staff to understand their personal experience; site visits to learn about the work environment; as well as textual analysis of new articles and reports to understand the transitions to automotive technologies and practices in labour management.
This project will advance global theoretical knowledge on airport infrastructures, labour and technology, and inform policies to minimise the risk of attrition, non-cooperation and disruption that could arise from the poor management of labour. The project will also contribute to a new awareness of mobility justice by focusing on workers who tend to work long hours, are poorly paid, and are often segregated based on race and gender, and migrant workers and/or aged workers who are employed on a ‘use-and-discard’ basis.
In light of Singapore’s pursuit of a larger role for aviation, this project offers unique and significant research insights on the sustainable, responsible and humane maintenance of airport infrastructures.