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Accepted Paper:

Grounding the Patchwork Planet: the ambivalences and violences of environmental data infrastructures  
Tone Walford (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will present the imaginaries that animate trans-national environmental data infrastructures, and how these might be sustained or challenged by how environmental data emerges “on the ground”, out of interwoven and localised socio-material, political, historical contexts and configurations.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I’ll be thinking through the sorts of planetary imaginaries that animate large-scale, trans-national environmental data infrastructures, and how these might be sustained or challenged by how environmental data is produced “on the ground”, out of interwoven localised relational, material, political and historical contexts and configurations. The planetary aspirations of international environmental data infrastructures seems to point to an idea of a patchwork planet, which carries with it new ideas and hopes for informational democracy, liberalism and justice, and in which we see complex environmental problems becoming data problems that require ‘joined-up’ or sutured data solutions. Drawing on ethnographic work with data technicians and scientific researchers in the Brazilian Amazon, in this paper I will draw out the ambivalences and contradictions of this imaginary as it comes up against people’s everyday experiences of working with environmental data in the Brazilian Amazon. It is crucial here to take into account the enduring historical present of imperial and colonial formations of environmental science in the Amazon - either as these formations exert pressure to shape people's experiences, or as they seem to disappear from view altogether - in any attempt to think through what environmental data justice might be.

Panel P12
LIE-DARs: Grounding remote sensing and environmental AI in perspectives of algorithmic injustice and colonial legacies
  Session 1 Monday 6 June, 2022, -