Hybrid Collectivity: Hacking Environmental Risk Visualization for the Anthropocene

by Lynda Olman and Danielle DeVasto.
In this essay, we propose a hack of existing models of environmental risk communication so that they will better address Anthropocene risks. We focus our discussion on a key area of risk communication: environmental risk visualization (ERV). Drawing on social-constructionist theories of risk and our own research on ERVs, we assemble criteria for designing and evaluating ERVs based on their hybrid collectivity—meaning their ability to collect agents around themselves over time and across traditional Modern divides between human/nonhuman, expert/nonexpert, and nature/culture. We test the criteria on two ERVs from the 2011 Fukushima disaster and discuss the resulting promises and challenges of an approach to risk communication motivated by hybrid collectivity.