Intimate evidence, experimental politics: DIY citizen sensing and the regimes of perceptibility of slow disasters
(Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
Paper short abstract:
We present an experimental exercise of citizen sensing of PM2.5 using DIY sensors in Puchuncaví, Chile, to think about the political affordances of producing and collectivizing pollution data at the domestic scale.
Paper long abstract:
Chronic disasters such as atmospheric pollution creep slowly yet vitally into view and sentience. Toxicants are lived and felt in the register domesticity and affect, rendering themselves perceptible through cough, itchy eyes, dust coating daily objects and other unspectacular situations inseparable from life's embodied situatedness. Yet atmospheric contamination is obdurately monitored at municipal and regional scales, while the lived experiences of those who suffer are discarded as invalid forms of knowing. As pollution is often unequally distributed across class and race lines, the possibilities of political contestation are thus restricted to the capacities of poor, poisoned and otherwise marginalized communities to access, understand and mobilize environmental data. In this paper we turn to an experimental exercise of citizen sensing of PM2.5 using DIY sensors in Puchuncaví, Chile, to think about the political affordances of producing and collectivizing pollution data at the domestic scale. We are interested in the interface between experiential and intimate evidence, data production and participation, and in the disruptive capacities of such interface for environmental justice. More specifically, we describe three generative capacities of the experiment. First, the way the participatory process enlivened particulate matter as an object of care for those involved. Second, how the experiment invoked a sense of political assembly among participants. And finally, the power of the intervention to create a new set of political tactics. The experiment, we finally suggest, pushes us to rethink the regimes of perceptibility often at work in participatory exercises during, after or in situations of disaster.
Disasters and participation: inventive/disruptive encounters