Technologies of accident: forensic media, crash analysis, and the redefinition of progress Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Siegel, Greg
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication
  • This study suggests that by the mid-twentieth century, transportation accidents were no longer thought to be something that could be eradicated through the eradication of human error. Neither were they something to be simply accepted. Instead, they were something to be expertly monitored and measured, scrutinized and analyzed, explained and contained. To these ends, transportation accidents were subjected to rigorous investigation and controlled experiment, and new means and methods were designed and implemented to technologically write, scientifically read, and institutionally manage them. Technologies of accident advances three basic propositions: (1) the transportation accident was made into an object of scientific and institutional analysis, knowledge, and control in the united states during the 1940s and '50s; (2) the transportation accident, regarded in the nineteenth century as an impediment to technological progress, was reconstituted in the twentieth as a catalyst for technological progress; and (3) accident technologies and forensic media such as the flight-data recorder, the cockpit-voice recorder, and the high-speed motion-picture camera embodied and enabled the twin transformations described in the first two propositions. This study examines the origins and implications of a cultural and institutional project driven by two interrelated imperatives: discover the transportation accident's "truth" (in the name of history or science) and discipline the transportation accident's signification (in the name of education). Particular attention is paid to how accident technologies and forensic media articulated and were articulated by their cultural and discursive contexts, as well as the ways in which they rearticulated earlier technocultural imaginings and practices.
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  • In Copyright
  • Grossberg, Lawrence
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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