Atmospheric Citizens: How to make breathable worlds

Environmental sensors are meant to activate particular forms of citizenship. Plugging in a digital kit and joining a disparate community of users are the steps to be followed that in principle should mobilize data and rights in the making. Yet rather than unfold a more straightforward form of political engagement, citizen sensing kits and the citizen data they generate can often give rise to even more complex struggles with urban environmental life.

In this public lecture, Jennifer will draw on material from her forthcoming book, Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle, to discuss how atmospheric citizens are constituted through practices of sensing environments and working to build more breathable worlds. It will describe collaborations to monitor air pollution from fracking infrastructure, to document emissions in urban environments, and to create air-quality gardens. As these projects show, how people respond to, care for, and struggle to transform environmental conditions informs the political subjects and collectives they become as they strive for more breathable worlds.

This lecture is part of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning Dean’s Lecture Series.