Historical Social Research

Heiner Stahl: Preparing for Landing, Ready for Take-Off. Zoning Noise Pollution as Spatio-Temporal Practices at Berlin-Tegel and Berlin-Tempelhof Airport (1965-1975)[Abstract]

The article outlines the spatio-temporal dimensions of air traffic noise and its relation to urban planning and the presumed conditions of public health. Placed in the setting of Cold War Berlin, the measuring and the localization of noise pollution becomes, step by step, a social and political issue. Emerging environmental awareness started challenging the well-established top-down planning procedures concerning inner-city territories. In this essay, the implementation of noise pollution zones at West Berlin airports is linked to modes of policing an urban soundscape, in particular when it comes to the spatial and temporal annoyance induced by noise. When combating air traffic noise, new social movements and environmental experts face different sets of hegemonic rules that organize airspace. This struggle requires a different logic of gaining and “doing territory” than on the city’s street level.

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