Cite as

Schütz, Tim. 2019. “Quotidian Anthropocene: Civic Infrastructure.” In Themes, edited by Tim Schütz. In Quotidian Anthropocene, edited by Kim Fortun and Scott Knowles. March.

This is a logo with the words "Quotidian Anthropocene" surrounded by incomplete circle drawn in blue and orange brushstroke style.

About the Quotitidan Anthropocene Project

The Quotidian Anthropocene project explores how the Anthropocene is playing out on the ground in different settings. The aim is to create both...Read more

Tim Schütz

Graduate student and Fulbright fellow in Cultural Anthropology at the University of California Irvine.


Civic data infrastructure supports collaborative knowledge production and shared, adaptive governance of complex problems. The shared questions and analysis presented here support research to understand civic data infrastructure in different places (St. Louis or Austin, for example) and in disciplinary and problem domains (ecology, environmental epidemiology, energy transition or climate change adaptation, for example).

We encourage users to start through what we think of as "data ethnography," searching for examples of civic data that point to underlying infrastructure and capacity. When one looks for data on asthma rates in a particular place, for example, one learns about the kinds of health data collected and made accessible in that place, and about involved government agencies, NGOs and commercial organizations. In doing this, you can address the core questions and analytics outlined below.


Who in this setting or domain is thinking and worrying about the kinds of civic [qualitative, air pollution, energy transition, anthropocene, risk] data infrastructure, work and capacity called for currently and in the future?


What discourses shape the way people in this setting talk about and conceptualize civic data infrastructure and capacity, right-to-know, freedom of information, the potential of expanded public participation, and so on?


What laws and economic drivers produce (or undercut) civic data infrastructure, access, work and capacity in this setting?


What groups, networks and publics are implicated in civic data infrastructure, work, governance and capacity in this setting? What data and visualizations of these groups and networks are available?


What practices produce (or undercut) civic data work and capacity in this setting? 


How has civic data capacity (or lack of) impacted people in this setting (subjecting them to industrial risks,  for example to over-research or invisibility? What human health impacts and indicators need to be accounted for and addressed in this setting?


What cultural frames and dispositions enable or deflect civic data work and capacity in this setting?


What educational and research programs (formal and informal) produce civic data capacity in this setting? What data expertise is available?


What civic data and communication infrastructure is in place in this setting and how is it configured, accessible and usable?  What data, infrastructure and visualization capacity is provided by federal government actors, lower level government actors, businesses, NGOs and other civil society organizations and networks?


What technical infrastructure in this setting needs to be monitored, governed and planned, and what civic data infrastructure is needed for this?


What ecosystems in this setting need to be monitoring, governed and planned, and what civic data infrastructure is needed for this? What civic data infrastructure needed to account and plan for climate change in this setting?


What Anthropocenic load (toxic waste sites, mercury levels in lakes and streams, etc) in this setting needs to be documented, stewarded and governed, and what civic data infrastructure is needed for this?



Leveraging the shared questions presented here, project researchers have examined civic data infrastructure on the national scale as well as in specific places.