Citizens of Worlds

Environments are increasingly sites of pollution, extraction, disaster, and development. Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle examines how citizen-sensing technologies and practices observe, evidence, and act on environmental disturbance. By focusing especially on how people use sensors and sensing technologies to monitor air quality, this book asks:

Who or what constitutes a “citizen” in citizen sensing? And how do digital sensing technologies enable or constrain environmental citizenship?

Taking the form of a how-to guide, Citizens of Worlds documents projects from the Citizen Sense research group, which built digital sensor toolkits for documenting and analyzing air pollution. This practice-based study describes collaborations with people to monitor air pollution from fracking infrastructure, document traffic emissions, and create air quality gardens. In the process of installing sensing technologies, this study considers the aspirations, collaborations, troubleshooting, disappointments, and political change that are forged in specific sensing projects.

As these projects show, how people work with, respond to, care for, shape, fight for, and transform environments informs the political subjects and collectives that they become. Citizens and worlds materialize through attempts to sense and struggle toward more breathable conditions.

Each chapter is accompanied by an “Open-Air Toolkit for Environmental Struggle” that Citizen Sense developed by working with communities to identify, document and act on air pollution concerns.

Citizen Sense collaborator Sarah Garcin illustrated each of the toolkits for Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle. This is the Dustbox particulate-matter sensor and monitoring toolkit developed for monitoring air quality in South East London.

Citizens of Worlds is available to read via Manifold, published by University of Minnesota Press in November 2022 (and available on Manifold in draft form from the autumn of 2021).

Presentations related to the book include:

Atmospheric Citizens: How to Make Breathable Worlds.” Speaker series presentation. Digital Writing and Research Lab. University of Texas, Austin (28 April 2022).

Atmospheric Citizens: How to Make Breathable Worlds.” Dean’s Lecture. Melbourne School of Design. University of Melbourne, Australia (12 April 2022).

“Breathable Worlds.” Panel response for the program launch, “Urban Inhabitation and the Urban Technical.” Urban Institute. University of Sheffield, UK (18 March 2022).

Data Citizens and the Right to Data.” Presentation for Centre for Data, Culture, and Society. University of Edinburgh, UK (24 November 2021).