Shreya P Subramani

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Princeton U.

Grant number

Gr. 9359

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Subramani, Shreya P., Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'Cartographic Citizenship: An Ethnography of Grassroots Mapping in the U.S. Gulf Coast,' supervised by Dr. Joao Biehl

Preliminary abstract: Throughout the United States, grassroots organizations use aerial imaging and crowd-sourced data collection to compile visual evidence of environmental vulnerabilities. This phenomenon, referred to as ‘citizen mapping,’ allows communities to use open source visual and GIS programming technologies to spatially and temporally track the impacts of energy industries and natural disasters on ecosystems so that citizens may petition the state for regulatory and infrastructural change. My dissertation research seeks to unpack the multilayered relationships between citizen mapping communities and state/corporate actors mediated by grassroots geoimaging data in the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, U.S.A., a region whose recent history is punctuated by environmental disaster. I probe the extent to which these monitoring technologies act as a kind of citizen-designed surveillance parainfrastructure, where aerial images not only document environmental risks to present in state courts, but represent narratives of community experience. I examine the social and material dimensions of this surveillance data as a form of collective action through which the political stakes of vulnerability are rendered visible. My research will explore how aerial and cartographic visualities foster the emergence of citizen actors who participate in many forms of territorial securitization, such as policing, housing, ecological conservation and infrastructural maintenance.