Data Citizens and the Right to Data 

Deptford wildlife garden
Sue Godfrey Wildlife Garden named after local activist, from the project Citizens of Worlds


Environmental sensors are meant to activate particular forms of data-oriented envi­ronmental citizenship. Plugging in a digital kit and join­ing a disparate community of users are the steps to be followed that in principle should mobilize environmental data and rights in the making. Yet rather than unfold a more straightforward form of political engagement, citizen sensing kits and the citizen data they generate can often given rise to even more complex struggles with urban environmental life.  

This presentation will draw on material from the forthcoming book, Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle, to discuss how data citizens are constituted through practices of forming and making evidence, whether by generating their own data or compiling and analyzing diverse datasets—or both. It will consider how rights to data are expressed through uneven evidentiary techniques that constitute ongoing processes for materializing data citizenship as affective and collective infrastructures for engaging with and intervening in urban worlds. 


Jennifer Gabrys is Chair in Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She leads the Planetary Praxis research group, and is Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, Smart Forests: Transforming Environments into Social-Political Technologies. She also leads Citizen Sense and AirKit, which are participatory and practice-based research projects funded by the ERC that address air pollution and citizen engagement. Her recent publications include How to Do Things with Sensors (2019), and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (2016). Her newest book, Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle, is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press. Her work can be found at and


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First broadcast on 24 November 2021.

This recording is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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