Jessica Emily Barnes

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

South Carolina, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10457

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Barnes, Jessica (South Carolina, U. of) "Porous City: An Ethnography of Air Pollution in London"

Air pollution impedes breath and shortens lives. In cases where it is not manifest as visible smog, however, poor air quality is often not a matter of widespread concern. This project examines the racialized and class-inflected ways in which urban air pollution shapes daily life. The project draws on 13-months of ethnographic fieldwork in White City, a diverse London neighborhood with high levels of poverty and traffic-generated air pollution. The first dimension of this research centers on the home, exploring how White City residents think about the air inside their homes and its link with the traffic-filled air beyond their windows and doorways. The second part looks at the street as the main source of outdoor air pollution, probing how residents sense and respond to air’s varied qualities when traversing an environment dense with traffic. The third part focuses on the city, investigating how flows of air and traffic across London shape the everyday experience of those living in White City. With its multi-scaled design and spanning of indoor and outdoor domains, this ethnography offers novel insights into the nexus of people, air, and pollutants, and the systemic inequalities that influence how these things come together.