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Special Collection

Disaster, Infrastructure, and Participatory Knowledge

Collection launched: 03 Mar 2021

The COVID pandemic and subsequent citizen and community science responses (CCSRs) are typical of how disasters spur citizen and community science into action. Disasters tend to be seen as acute and geographically specific, but as the pandemic illustrates, they can also be slow moving and geographically dispersed. Disasters also tend to accelerate, reinforce, and deepen social vulnerabilities and can reveal how social institutions and socio-technical infrastructure amplify social and environmental inequality. This special issue will focus on how infrastructure—physical, social and digital—mediates CCSRs to all types of disaster.

Infrastructures are sociotechnical systems that constitute the built physical, social, and virtual/digital environments we all inhabit. People, but more often large institutions, design and build infrastructure, and infrastructure, in turn, organizes modern society and gives value to (or devalues) human life. Infrastructure also conditions disasters and affects disasters’ social and environmental impacts, including CCS.

There are many empirical cases of CCS that start in response to disasters, but there is a dearth of analyses on the interaction with socio-technical infrastructures. Yet infrastructure shapes how CCS unfolds over longer periods of disaster recovery. It influences whether CCS translates participatory knowledge into meaningful and lasting institutional changes. Infrastructure also conditions CCS as it competes with, or complements, government-based data collection initiatives, which are usually more regularized and universal. This special issue aims to address these and other knowledge gaps. It contains studies that juxtapose and investigate how the mundane and everyday ordering work of infrastructure mediates CCSRs amid the chaotic disorder of disaster.

Guest Editors

Shannon Dosemagen

Scott Frickel

Alison Parker

Aya Kimura

Jennifer Preece remains EiC, and Sayzie Koldys remains ME.