Type d'événement, date(s) et adresse(s)Colloque et journée(s) d'étude

Centre Alexandre-Koyré, 27 rue Damesme, 75013 Paris (seminar room - 5th floor)

Economy, politic and materiality of environmental data

Current research on climate change and agriculture


Organizing team:

- Sara Angeli Aguiton (CNRS research fellow, CAK)
- Sylvain Brunier (CNRS research fellow, CSO)
- Jeanne Oui (PhD student EHESS, CAK)

Invited speakers: Stéphanie Barral (INRA/LISIS), Sebastian Grevsmuhl (CNRS/CRH), Théo Moreau (LISIS), Léo Magnin (LISIS), Mathieu Rajaoba (CSI), Jeanne Oui (CAK)

Keynote speaker: Samuel Randalls (University College London)

Nowadays, environmental data become more and more important in agriculture and environmental regulation. In agriculture, new technologies produce large amounts of information about production processes, and numerical data is used to manage agriculture, both at an individual farm-level, and at a national or European scale of decision. Current discussions about the CAP reform are dealing with stakes surrounding data, and this subject is a growing preoccupation at the political level concerning privacy, technical gaps, traceability, commodification… In environmental policies and services, measurement technologies are growing to quantify pollution, CO2 emissions, but also weather data, rainfall estimation, climate services. New actors (such as data analysts), new infrastructures (like data management platforms) and new governing tools (as remote sensing system or indexed insurance) question farming practices, agricultural policies, environmental regulations and power relations in these sectors.

The workshop will address issues concerning environmental data in agriculture and in environmental regulations through three main directions: commodification (economy of environmental data), political governance (politics) and regimes of data production (materiality). It will gather a small group of young researchers (PhD students, post-doc, researchers) in sciences and technology studies, sociology and history who encounter environmental data on their fieldwork, starting from the acknowledgement of the increasing role of private organizations in the production of environmental data. It emerges alternatively or complementarily from public knowledge infrastructures, and through a variety of forms: data production, data analytics, industrial products based on environmental data, data-based services, emerging niche in “traditional” industry such as with index insurance, etc. We will question the stakes raised by the emergence of a private offer in environmental data, and by the commodification of these information: how do private actors decided to enter the production and commerce of environmental data? What business and for what uses are they valuable? How are these data turned into assets? What shift in industrial practices does it suggest? How are they produced and priced? What is the degree of reality and of “profitability” of these techno-promises?

We aim at studying the articulation between public and private actors by historical, comparative and political perspectives: another concern is about the contemporary regime of production of environmental information. What is the historical context of these transformation in Europe and the US? How does public and private logic of data production are entangled? How does it affect the making of infrastructures for data production? How does it translate in the materiality of such infrastructure (sensors, databases, maintenance, formats, access, etc.)? What are the intermediaries of the “service industry” of environmental data?

Finally, these considerations call for thoughts on the mode of political governing that is in the making through these new arrangements: how come environmental data production, which was largely conducted as a public service as weather forecast, came to be privatized and integrated in the service sector? What are the forms of public/private relationship at work? How does previous form of government were translated into these new arrangement? How are some industrial/agricultural activities governed through environmental data and metrics? How are these activities consequently affected by the increasing need of data for them to be governable/manageable? What current transformations of environmental politics are visible from this perspective?

Provisional schedule

9h45: Welcome and introduction

10-11h30: Keynote (1h) and discussion (30min.)

Samuel Randalls - University College London: “Commercialising environmental data: re-making public and private goods in meteorology from the mid-20th century”

The different funding systems for meteorology across the world has led to diverse claims about the merits of public vs private funding of scientific infrastructures and services. The paper contrasts the cases of the U.K. and the U.S. in particular and explores the implications that the funding systems have had for both a public and a commercial meteorological sector. It historically contextualises the development of these funding systems from the mid-20th century, tracing their political economies and the contrasting claims made about business opportunity and the merits of marketisation. Particular focus is given to the U.K. Met Office as a Trading Fund and how institutional accountancy rules re-structured the organisation’s objectives. More broadly, this paper argues that more attention should be given to the often under-researched area of the funding of science, scientific organisations and infrastructure, not least given the increasing use of private data collection and monitoring technologies.

11h30-11h40 Coffee break

11h40-12h20: 1st paper (20min) and discussion (20min)

Sebastian Grevsmuhl - CRH (CNRS-EHESS): “Producing Antarctic Environmental Data : NASA and the British Antarctic Survey”

12h20 – 13h: 2nd paper (20min) and discussion (20min)

Théo Moreau – LISIS (Université Paris-Est): “From Knowledge Production to Private Innovation: The Case of Air Quality Data”

13h-14h Lunch break

14h-14h40: 3rd paper (20min) and discussion (20min)

Jeanne Oui – CAK (EHESS): “Promises and trials of a private forecast service for agriculture: the articulation of two data production regimes for a precision weather tool”

14h40-15h20: 4th paper (20min) and discussion (20min)

Phanette Barral – LISIS (INRA): “Agreeing on metrics in market-based conservation policies: the case of species credits in the USA”

15h20-15h30 Coffee break

15h30-16h10: 5th paper (20min) and discussion (20min)

Mathieu Rajaoba – CSI (Mines ParisTech) – Matérialiser les organisations agricoles par le numérique. Politiques et économies des données agricoles en France à l’épreuve d’un projet de portail national

16h15-17h: 6th paper (20min) and discussion (20min)

Léo Magnin, LISIS (Université Paris Est- ENS Lyon) : « L’affaire des SNA » - Comment la construction de données agricoles peut-elle produire des effets politiques ?

17h : Conclusive discussion