Scrapping the Workshop of the World: Civic Infrastructuring and the Politics of Late Industrial Governance

Alison Kenner

Abstract


To understand harm in breathing spaces requires analysis of the ways in which structural violence is built into technologies of environmental governance; a script that cannot recognize the dynamic relationships between bodies, atmospheres, and the industrial practices that condition both. In this paper, I show how community members in a small, Philadelphia neighborhood came to understand that toxic air is made permissible through late industrial political techniques. One of these techniques is a civic engagement platform, designed to more efficiently and transparently connect the public with municipal agencies, and recommended to community members as a means to address atmospheric hazards. Despite initial public optimism, the City’s civic engagement platform failed to address environmental hazards. Rather than abandon the platform, however, community members appropriated the City’s digital infrastructure to run an environmental reporting project. Drawing on the work of STS scholars, I describe the community’s work as civic infrastructuring, a sociotechnical process that utilized public infrastructure to better understand government failure and build community capacity to engage the administration, even if on late industrial terms.


Keywords


infrastructuring; late industrialism; digital infrastructure; air pollution; environmental health; urban governance

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ahmann, Chloe. 2018. “It’s exhausting to create an event out of nothing”: Slow Violence and the Manipulation of Time.” Cultural Anthropology, 33(1):142-171.

Bolívar, Manuel P. R., Pérez, C. C., and Hernández, A. M. L. 2007. “E-Government and Public Financial Reporting The Case of Spanish Regional Governments.” The American review of public administration, 37(2):142-177.

Bryer, Thomas A., and Kimberly L. Nelson. 2013. "Social media for civic engagement: An exploration of urban governments." In Citizen E-participation in urban governance: Crowdsourcing and collaborative creativity, 226-246. IGI Global.

Calvillo, Nerea. 2018. “Political airs: From monitoring to attuned sensing air pollution.” Social studies of science, 48(3): 372-388.

Dillon, Lindsey and Julie Sze. 2016. “Police Power and Particulate Matters: Environmental Justice and the Spatialities of In/Securities in US Cities.” English Language Notes 54(2):13–23.

Donaldson, Andrew, S. Lane, N. Ward, and S. Whatmore. 2013. “Overflowing with Issues: Following the Political Trajectories of Flooding.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 31(4):603-618.

Ehn, Pelle. 2008. “Participation in design things.” In Proceedings Participatory Design Conference 2008. ACM.

Environmental Protection Agency. 1990. “Brownfield Technical Resources: Industrial & Analytical Profiles.” National Service Center for Environmental Publications. Accessed 22 April 2016. https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=9100SNAE.txt

Fennell, C., 2011. ‘Project Heat’and Sensory Politics in Redeveloping Chicago Public Housing. Ethnography, 12(1): 40-64.

Fortun, Kim. 2012. “Ethnography in late industrialism.” Cultural Anthropology, 27(3):446-464.

Fortun, Kim. 2014. “From Latour to Late Industrialism.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 4(1):309-329.

Foster, D. 2015. “Taylor to Introduce Legislation to Create Scrap Metal Database.” Accessed 4 March 2018, http://www.reptaylor.com/NewsItemPrint.aspx?NewsID=23639

Hird, Myra J., S.Lougheed, R. Kerry Rowe, and C. Kuyvenhoven. 2014. “Making Waste Management Public (Or Falling Back to Sleep).” Social Studies of Science, 44(3): 441-465.

Irwin, A. & Michael, M. 2003. Science, social theory & public knowledge. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Jalbert, Kirk and Kinchy, A.J. 2016. “Sense and influence: environmental monitoring tools and the power of citizen science.” Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 18(3):379-397.

Jasanoff, Sheila. 2003. “Technologies of humility: citizen participation in governing science.” Minerva, 41(3):223-244.

Jasanoff, Sheila. 2005. ‘Let them eat cake’: GM foods and the democratic imagination. In Science and Citizens: Globalization and the Challenge for Engagement, edited by M. Leach, I. Scoones, & B. Wynne, 183-98. London, UK: Zed Books.

Kimura, Aya H., and Abby Kinchy. Science by the People: Participation, Power, and the Politics of Environmental Knowledge. Rutgers University Press, 2019.

Korn, Matthias, Wolfgang, Reißmann, Röhl, Tobias, and David Sittler, eds. Infrastructuring Publics. Springer, 2018.

Latour, Bruno. 2007. “Turning Around Politics: A Note on Gerard De Vries' Paper.” Social Studies of Science, 37(5):811-820.

Latour, B. 2005. Making things public: Atmospheres of democracy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Le Dantec, Christopher A. and C. DiSalvo. 2013. “Infrastructuring and the Formation of Publics in Participatory Design.” Social Studies of Science, 43(2):241-264.

Le Dantec, Christopher A. "Infrastructures of Digital Civics: Transportation, Advocacy, and Mobile Computing." In Infrastructuring Publics, pp. 169-184. Springer VS, Wiesbaden, 2019.

Lee, Sang M., X. Tan, and S. Trimi. 2005. “Current Practices of Leading e-Government Countries.” Communications of the ACM, 48(10):99-104.

Liboiron, Max, Tironi, M. and Calvillo, N., 2018. “Toxic politics: Acting in a permanently polluted world.” Social Studies of Science, 48(3):331-349.

Licht, W. 2000. Getting Work: Philadelphia, 1840-1950. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Little, Peter C. 2018. “Corporate Mortality Files and Late Industrial Necropolitics.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 32(2):161-176.

Lubrano, Alfred And J. Gammage. 2019. “Study: Philly among leaders in gentrification, which has pushed out people of color,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20. Accessed 21 February 2020.

https://www.inquirer.com/news/gentrification-philadelphia-african-american-latino-investment-neighborhood-20190320.html

Mah, Alice. “Ruination and post‐industrial urban decline.” The SAGE handbook of the 21st century city. London, SAGE Publications Ltd, 201-212.

Marres, Noortje. 2007. “The Issues Deserve More Credit: Pragmatist Contributions to the Study of Public Involvement in Controversy.” Social Studies of Science, 37(5):759-780.

Murphy, Michelle. 2017a. “Alterlife and Decolonial Chemical Relations.” Cultural Anthropology, 32(4):494-503.

Murphy, M. 2017b. The economization of life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Nading, Alex. 2019. “Ethnography in a grievance.” Medicine Anthropology Theory, May 14. http://www.medanthrotheory.org/read/11310/ethnography-in-a-grievance

Naidu, Prash. 2018. “Sensing Change, Changing Place: Sensory Politics Along the Tasi Mane.” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 19(5):467-483.

Norris, Donald and C. Reddick. 2013. “Local E‐Government in the United States: Transformation or Incremental Change?” Public Administration Review, 73(1):165-175.

Ottinger, Gwen. 2010. “Buckets of resistance: Standards and the effectiveness of citizen science.” Science, Technology, & Human Values, 35(2):244-270.

Parry, T. 2015. “Metal Scrappers Could Help Us Fight Toxic Mines…If They Can Make It Through the Winter.” Grid Magazine, 3 March. Accessed 8 July 2016

http://www.gridphilly.com/grid-magazine/2016/2/25/scrappers

Pine, Jason. 2016. "Last Chance Incorporated." Cultural Anthropology, 31(2):297-318.

Pipek, Volkmar and Wulf, V., 2009. “Infrastructuring: Toward an integrated perspective on the design and use of information technology.” Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10(5):1.

Roberts, Elizabeth F.S., 2017. What Gets Inside: Violent Entanglements and Toxic Boundaries in Mexico City. Cultural Anthropology, 32(4): 592-619.

Shapiro, Nicholas. 2019. Persistent ephemeral pollutants. Being Material.

Shapiro, Nicholas. 2015. “Attuning to the chemosphere: Domestic formaldehyde, bodily reasoning, and the chemical sublime.” Cultural Anthropology, 30(3):368-393.

Spackman, Christy, and Gary A. Burlingame. 2018. “Sensory politics: the tug-of-war between potability and palatability in municipal water production.” Social studies of science, 48(3):350-371.

Spackman, Christy. "In smell’s shadow: Materials and politics at the edge of perception." Social Studies of Science (2020): 0306312720918946.

Star, Susan Leigh. 1999. “The Ethnography of Infrastructure.” American behavioral scientist, 43(3): 377-391.

Star, Susan L., & Bowker, G. C. 2007. “Enacting silence: Residual categories as a challenge for ethics, information systems, and communication.” Ethics and Information Technology, 9(4):273-280.

Star, Susan L. and K. Ruhleder. 1996. “Steps Toward an Ecology of Infrastructure: Design and Access for Large Information Spaces.” Information Systems Research, 7(1):111-134.

Thomas, John and G. Streib. 2003. “The new face of government: citizen‐initiated contacts in the era of E‐Government.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: J-PART, 13(1):83-102.

Tremblay, Jean-Thomas. 2019. "Feminist Breathing." Differences, 30(3):92-117.

Wylie, Sara, Shapiro, N. and Liboiron, M., 2017. “Making and doing politics through grassroots scientific research on the energy and petrochemical industries.” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, 3:393-425.

Zimring, Carl A. 2009. Cash for your trash: Scrap recycling in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.17351/ests2020.391



Copyright (c) 2020 Alison Kenner

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.