Jennifer Gabrys Former Senior Fellow

Jennifer Gabrys
January 2020


Jennifer Gabrys is Chair in Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, and Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is Principal Investigator on the project AirKit, and she leads the Citizen Sense project, both funded by the European Research Council. She is the author of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (2016); and Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (2011), and co-editor of Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic (Routledge, 2013). Her recent and forthcoming books include How to Do Things with Sensors (University of Minnesota Press Forerunners series, 2019), and Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle. Her work can be found at and
Dated from 2020

Fields of Research

Science and technology studies, digital social research, environmental studies, environmental media, practice-based research

IKKM Research Project

Citizens of Worlds

Citizen-sensing practices have materialized that use digital sensors to monitor environments, to collect data, and to report on environmental problems. Yet this basic outline for how an emerging technical practice is meant to unfold barely captures the multiple ways in which sensing technologies are put to work to support concrete struggles over environmental conditions. Drawing on over seven years of practice-based and collaborative research on the use and misuse of citizen sensing technologies, this research project will develop a monograph, Citizens of Worlds, to document and analyze case studies from the Citizen Sense research group. The group’s research has involved developing and testing citizen-sensing technologies, and installing sensing kits in collaboration with communities focused on environmental problems. Questions of who or what is a citizen, as well as what is to be sensed and how, arise as key problems in the course of researching, building, installing, and scrutinizing sensing technologies in these sites. This study zeroes in on these problem areas by asking: How are citizens constituted through and with citizen sensing technologies? And what are the worlds that they would sense, be affected by, attend to, and fight for? As a practice-based research project attuned to the multiple ways of constituting citizenship and world-making, this study aligns with the Operative Ontologies theme by considering the processual and relational ways in which environmental engagements take hold and intervene in current operating conditions. The project will reflect on the constitution of political subjects and citizens, and reconsider how these differently materialize through environmental practices engaged with digital sensing technologies.

Selected Publications

Research monographs

Gabrys, J. 2019. How to Do Things with Sensors. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Forerunners Series, 2019.
Available open access on Manifold.
Gabrys J. 2016. Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Gabrys J. 2011. Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Peer-reviewed articles (selected)

Gabrys, J. 2019. "Sensors and Sensing Practices: Reworking Experience across Environments, Entities, Technologies,” introduction to the special issue "Sensors and Sensing Practices,” Science, Technology & Human Values 44, no. 5, 723-736.
Gabrys, J. 2018. “Sensing Lichens: From Ecological Microcosms to Environmental Subjects,” for the special issue “The Wretched Earth: Botanical Conflicts and Artistic Interventions,” Third Text 151, vol. 32, issue 2, 350-367.
Pritchard, H., Gabrys, J., and L. Houston. 2018. “Re-Calibrating DIY: Testing Participation across Dust Sensors, Fry Pans and Environmental Pollution,” New Media & Society 20, no. 12, 4533-4552.
Gabrys, J. 2017. “Citizen Sensing, Air Pollution and Fracking: From ‘Caring about Your Air’ to Speculative Practices of Evidencing Harm,” for the special issue “Care and Policy Practices: Translations, Assemblages, Interventions,” Sociological Review monograph series 65, no. 2 (doi: 10.1177/0081176917710421), 179-192.

Online publications

Gabrys, J. 2019. "Ocean Sensing and Navigating the End of this World," e-flux Journal #101, special issue “Navigation beyond Vision” (June).
Gabrys, J. 2018. “Becoming Planetary,” in the special issue “Accumulation,” e-flux Architecture (October).