My current book project, Porous City: An Ethnography of Air Pollution in London, examines how air pollution is woven into the fabric of daily lives in racialized and class-inflected ways. Focusing on White City, a diverse, low-income London neighborhood with high levels of air pollution, the project explores how people move through, walk alongside, and live close to the traffic that is the main source of emissions, breathing air that carries unseen dangers. It also enters into the domestic spaces where people spend much of their time and where the air can be even more hazardous, due to the penetration of outdoor pollutants as well as indoor pollutant sources.
Combining participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and archival work, the project looks at people-air interactions across three spaces: the home, street, and city.
How do White City residents think about the air inside their homes and its link with the traffic-filled air beyond their windows and doorways?
How do White City residents sense and respond to air’s varied qualities when traversing streets dense with traffic and what do controversies over local traffic control measures say about different people’s perspectives on the air?
How do flows of air and vehicles across London shape the day-to-day experience of people living in the White City neighborhood, and in what ways do various policies impact these flows?
Situated within critical scholarship on air and work on environmental racism and justice, the project extends thinking on the lived experience of pollution. With its multi-scaled design and spanning of indoor and outdoor domains, this ethnography will offer novel insights into the systemic inequalities that influence how people, air, and pollutants come together.