From flammable tap water and sick livestock to the recent onset of hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma, the impact of fracking in the United States is far-reaching and deeply felt. In Fractivism Sara Ann Wylie traces the history of fracking and the ways scientists and everyday people are coming together to hold accountable an industry that has managed to evade regulation. Beginning her story in Colorado, Wylie shows how nonprofits, landowners, and community organizers are creating novel digital platforms and databases to track unconventional oil and gas well development and document fracking's environmental and human health impacts. These platforms model alternative approaches for academic and grassroots engagement with the government and the fossil fuel industry. A call to action, Fractivism outlines a way forward for not just the fifteen million Americans who live within a mile of an unconventional oil or gas well, but for the planet as a whole.
Introduction. An STS Analysis of Natural Gas Development in the United States 1
1. Securing the Natural Gas Boom: Oilfield Service Companies and Hydraulic Fracturing's Regulatory Exemptions 19
2. Methods for Following Chemicals: Seeing a Disruptive System and Forming a Disruptive Science 41
3. HEIRship: TEDX and Collective Inheritance 64
4. Stimulating Debate: Fracking, HEIRship, and TEDX's Generative Database 86
5. Industrial Relations and an Introduction to STS in Practice 115
6. ExtrAct: A Case Study in Methods for STS in Practice 137
7. Landman Report Card: Developing Web Tools for Socially Contentious Issues 165
8. From LRC to WellWatch: Designing Infrastructure for Participatory and Recursive Publics 191
9. WellWatch: Reflections on Designing Digital Media for Multisited Para-ethnography of Industrial Systems 219
10. The Fossil-Fuel Connection (with coauthor Len Albright) 247
Conclusion. Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds: A Call for Industrial Embodiment 279
“Sara Ann Wylie tells both a sobering story about industry practice and government negligence and an inspiring story of how gas patch residents, artists, civil servants, NGO activists, and health, environmental, and social scientists have responded to fracking. The political implications of this impressive and important book will be far-reaching.”
Kim Fortun, author of
Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster, New Global Orders
“Operating at the borderlands of anthropology and science studies, Sara Ann Wylie offers a compelling account of the relations between the production of knowledge and forms of regulatory accountability. She also outlines how alternative modes of scientific practice can yield new and innovative results while giving a rich depiction of the intersection of how forms of participatory democracy enroll the online world. Tackling a hugely important topic from an original angle, Fractivism could very well make a splash.”
Michael Watts, coeditor of
Subterranean Estates: Life Worlds of Oil and Gas
"Wylie makes an exciting and timely scholarly contribution that is relevant well beyond the scope of those concerned with the anthropology of energy. This book is useful to social scientists to inform research and teaching on topics spanning science and technology studies, energy policy, sustainability,environmental health, digital humanities, and applied and design anthropology. The relevance of this work also extends beyond academia, and would be of great value not only to gas patch communities that are still struggling to demonstrate the links between chemical exposure and illness, but to community leaders and activists that are engaged in a growing array of citizen science initiatives."
Conservation and Society
"Fractivism is an incredibly well-sourced book that presents and represents a kind of historical account of the newer applications of fracking technology (fracking reservoirs isn’t actually new) and various approaches scientists and communities are using to hold exploration companies accountable for the environmental problems resulting from fracking operations. . . . Well worth reading. Highly recommended. All readers."
M. S. Field
"Written with a strong sense of conviction and urgency. . . . An important and timely book that offers essential reading for students, researchers, and activists interested in civic science and the David-and-Goliath struggle of the popular epidemiology movement to help grassroots groups document the toxic burden posed by petrochemical and fossil fuel facilities."
Anthony E. Ladd