The Nature of Data: Infrastructures, Environments, Politics

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When we look at some of the most pressing issues in environmental politics today, it is hard to avoid data technologies. Big data, artificial intelligence, and data dashboards all promise "revolutionary" advances in the speed and scale at which governments, corporations, conservationists, and even individuals can respond to environmental challenges.

By bringing together scholars from geography, anthropology, science and technology studies, and ecology, The Nature of Data explores how the digital realm is a significant site in which environmental politics are waged. This collection as a whole makes the argument that we cannot fully understand the current conjuncture in critical, global environmental politics without understanding the role of data platforms, devices, standards, and institutions. In particular, The Nature of Data addresses the contested practices of making and maintaining data infrastructure, the imaginaries produced by data infrastructures, the relations between state and civil society that data infrastructure reworks, and the conditions under which technology can further socio-ecological justice instead of re-entrenching state and capitalist power. This innovative volume presents some of the first research in this new but rapidly growing subfield that addresses the role of data infrastructures in critical environmental politics.


Jenny Goldstein is an assistant professor of global development at Cornell University. Eric Nost is an assistant professor of geography, environment, and geomatics at the University of Guelph.


University of Nebraska Press