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Accepted Paper:

Concorde’s tyres: disaster, law, and modernity  
Will Rollason (Brunel University London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about the investigation into the June 2000 Concorde disaster and what it reveals about the role of law in the production of technological worlds. It suggests that the central mechanism of technology's worlding is the alternation between the general and the particular that law implies.

Paper long abstract:

When an aeroplane crashes, two things happen: investigators delve into the question of why this aircraft, under these particular circumstances came to grief, and regulators consider what, in general, the crash tells them about the safety of the type concerned. An air crash, in this sense, takes shape in two different ways: as an irreducibly singular, material happening, and as a sign of risk that needs to be translated into rules. In this paper, I analyse the air accident report into the crash of AFR 4590, an Air France Concorde, which was lost near Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on 25th June 2000, and associated documents and regulations. I show how the two faces of the disaster, its material specificity, and regulatory implications, systematically alternate in the way the accident is understood. I argue that this alternation is significant for two reasons. First, because it is the only means by which complex, risky devices like airliners can come into being: big machines have to pass through law to become reality. Second because of the way in which this tacking between happening and rule sheds light on ‘modernity’ in general, and especially the putative ‘Cartesian dualism’ of the moderns.

Panel P120b
Legal Worlds; Worlding Law
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -