CFP AAG 2019, Washington, D.C.
Uncertainties and Temporalities of Environmental Data
This session seeks papers grappling with the ethical, methodological, and theoretical complexities of digitally available environmental data. Environmental data are powerful, justifying the (in)actions of governments, communities, and corporations to address big, complex, and seemingly intractable environmental problems. Data has long been understood as a necessary means for highlighting and addressing environmental problems, helping to materialize issues as topics worthy of intervention and if and how they should be remediated (Nash, 2006; Murphy, 2006). More recently, spatially referenced, open, and accessible environmental data is being made available by and for activists, citizen scientists, government agencies, companies, and others, often with different objectives and interests. For some, such data and data visualization tools provide means of documenting pollution and environmental injustices in the absence of adequate or trustworthy government attention; for others, such tools seek to tame the uncertainty and complexity that characterize contemporary environmental problems; for others still, the emphasis on generating more and more accurate data as a means of mobilizing action obscures the need for forms of politics and activism that work outside the demands of institutional recognition (Liboiron et al. 2018). Thus, data offers both the potential for a different politics but also can be a mechanism of its foreclosure.
While there is a power in being able to show where, it is equally important to consider how these data represent when. These data have geography but also temporality. Exposure to environmental pollution - and how it is experienced - requires us to think differently about the passage and recording of time, where the consequences of being exposed to pollution may be acute or may unfold years after exposure. Critical data scholars, among them geographers, have shown how data collection and its curation reflect particular world views, and are limited in their ability to show particular kinds of relationships over place and time; these critiques complement geographers’ renewed interest in complexities of time and toxicities, exemplified by attention to non-linearity, differing temporalities of exposure, and the uncertainties produced by the long durée and legacies of toxic exposure (Murphy, 2013; Mah; 2017; Guthman and Mansfield, 2013; Davies, 2018). As environmental data – and data infrastructures to store and represent it – are increasingly leveraged as a solution and response to environmental problems, what legacies and relations are both made visible and obscured by data? In this session, we return to questions of how we conceive of, categorize, leverage, and, in some cases, rebut the proliferation of environmental data. We seek papers that struggle with the ethical, methodological, and theoretical complexities of digitally available environmental data, particularly through concepts of uncertainty and time.
Please send a title and abstract of 250 words to Arielle Hesse (email@example.com), Patrick Bresnihan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jim White (email@example.com) by Oct. 23rd .
Davies T (2018): Toxic Space and Time: Slow Violence, Necropolitics, and Petrochemical Pollution, Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Mah A (2017) Environmental justice in the age of big data : challenging toxic blind spots of voice, speed, and expertise, Environmental Sociology, 3(2): 122-133.
Guthman J and Mansfield B (2013) The implications of environmental epigenetics: A new direction for geographic inquiry on health, space, and nature-society relations. Progress in Human Geography 37(4): 486–504.
Liboiron M, Toroni M, Calvillo N (2018) Toxic politics:Acting in a permanently polluted world, Social Studies of Science 48(3): 331- 249.
Murphy M (2006) Sick building syndrome and the problem of uncertainty: Environmental politics, technoscience, and women workers. Duke University Press.
Murphy M (2013) Chemical Infrastructures of the St Clair River. In Boudia, S. & Jas, N. Toxicants, Health and Regulation since 1945. London: Pickering and Chatto.
Nash L (2006) Inescapable Ecologies: A History of Environment, Disease, and Knowledge. Berkley: University of California Press.
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