Pandemic Urbanism

May 14, 2020

Environmental Activism in Times of Covid-19 & Finding Ethnographic Pathways to Study It

By Mariana Arjona Soberón (, website)
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich/ Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

The author will give this presentation at the Pandemic Urbanism Symposium in a session titled “Politics, Engagement & Activism,” from 10:15 – 11:15 AM on May 29, 2020.

This presentation will look at the Fridays for Future movement and its current articulation in Mexico. Generally speaking, digital media has been reshaping the politics of cultural representation and environmental activism in significant ways. However, in the context of the pandemic, it has transformed from being a considerable aspect of this activist ecosystem to becoming an essential one. During this pandemic, the movement, which was once free-flowing between the streets, plazas, and online spaces, has been forced to fully inhabit an exclusively digital world. Not only has this lead to the creation of a different flavor of activism, but as an anthropologist, I am faced with the challenge of doing ethnographic work from a distance through online methods. My presentation will touch on the changes I have observed in the movement during this time as they relate to strategy, form, and narrative, and my journey of creating (and sometimes failing) to create meaningful relationships with informants in order to immerse myself in a movement where the main actors are currently over 10.000 km and a 7 hours time difference away.