Eurasion Curlew (Red List Species)
Eurasion Curlew (Red List Species)

Mourning for Deserted Skies

PhD Project Helen Verploegen

The PhD project ‘Mourning for Deserted Skies’ is concerned with studying the role of digital platforms in affective responses to biodiversity loss. Although we live in a time of unprecedented environmental losses, there seems to be little visible collective mourning or other forms of public emotional out pour in response to this. Certain communities are the exception. Groups as artists and those involved in nature protection do publicly express affective responses for the environment and its loss.

This project focuses on citizen scientists as an example of such a community. More specifically, this project focuses on citizen scientists who share observations of flora and fauna on participatory digital platforms for biodiversity observations (e.g. eBird, iNaturalist or

Observations registered on these digital platforms are studied as traces of human-nonhuman encounters. These encounters are affective; they bring about actions, feelings, and emotions such as love, joy, sadness, grief, and hope. Grounded in the environmental humanities, ethnography and cultural analysis are combined to study how these digital platforms mediate experiences and expressions of affective responses to biodiversity loss.

The insights provided by studying this community of citizen scientists and their digital traces, can help inspire to make more room for affect on and beyond digital platforms, in an effort to halt biodiversity loss.


Photo by Christian Brinkman

Contact information

For more information, please get in touch with Helen Verploegen