Climate Uncertainty in Digital Spaces




Engele, Meghan

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This thesis examines online communities that challenge expert knowledge through forms of doubt and uncertainty that center the embodied narratives of its members. The thesis uses "virtual" ethnographic methods to offer a multi-sited examination of the ways in which unexpected political communities congeal online around issues such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. These communities emerge across seemingly disparate topics and fields of knowledge but are joined by a broader interest in challenging the presumed authority of both the state and "science," and a desire to highlight the way in which these fields and their relationship to one another are in fact mediated by the social interests of their members. This thesis seeks to understand the narrative work around science and the state that occurs in these communities as a meaningful mode of political and social critique that is expressive of larger social concerns in a historical moment defined by new forms of embodied uncertainty and precarity that stem from anthropogenic climate change (ACC) and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. This project began as an examination of online communities of doubt and uncertainty related to expert scientific knowledge around climate change however, it evolved into a larger examination of how these online communities produce models of knowledge production and interact with science and the state as a mode of political action and critique.


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climate change, COVID-19, situated knowledge, uncertainty, virtual ethnography