Public Media

Engaged scholarship requires a wide array of communication strategies to translate research into action. The following projects and interventions deploy multimodal writing and multimedia with a transformative agenda in mind.

Public Writing

Rubio, Juan Manuel. “Unearthing Lead: Community-Based Science against the Environmental Legacy of the Lead Industries.” Spark: Elevating Scholarship on Social Issues (National Center for Institutional Diversity), June 7, 2022.

Audio Documentaries

Serialized audio documentaries are powerful storytelling devices. They allow scholars to narrate their research by focusing on characters, conflicts, and changing contexts. They can communicate complex arguments while also providing the depth and affect of direct human testimony. In a world where visual media is dominant and overstimulating, audio can offer immersive experiences where creative narration and academic rigor meet.

In my first audio documentary, I follow a group of researchers and activists as they try to unearth the mystery of soil contamination in Santa Ana.

As a ACLS Fellow with Princeton University, I will be developing an audio documentary focused on the global history of lead. It will tell the history of a silent epidemic that ravaged the world as the lead industry introduced this toxic heavy metal in household items, paint, and gasoline. The social consequences of this alleged “mistake” were vast. Countless communities, particularly communities of color, suffered from acute lead poisoning as children ingested paint chips and inhaled lead-dust particles. A staggering number of children were affected in their development and educational performance. 

As the series chronicles this global environmental disaster, it also narrates the stories of people who suffered from lead poisoning and are currently fighting to restore the health of urban living environments. As a global issue with close ties to the development of capitalism, lead is a window into how we mine and consume metals at a planetary scale, how corporate power permeates public health research, and how struggles for environmental justice demand a community-based science approach. 

An Audio Documentary Toolkit

At Princeton University, I will be developing educational material for scholars and public intellectuals who are interested in learning about the format of serialized audio documentaries. This material will be organized in units related to the purpose, the aesthetic, and the mechanics of making audio documentaries. Some of material included will be: 

  • Discussions with prominent audio-documentarists about the format
  • Video guides on how to record interviews, organize research material, produce transcripts, etc. 
  • References about the fundamentals of audio editing
  • Discussions with environmental activists about the role of audio-docs for outreach campaigns and organizing 

Story Maps

Smelters in Central Peru

Story Maps are powerful tools for illustrating a historical process. In this visual tour around the Yauli and Huarochirí Provinces in Peru, I explore the environmental legacy of the numerous refineries built in the Central Highlands before 1922. It shows where these refineries were located, provides a brief history of their founders, and explains how they used and changed the surrounding environment.

Go to Story Map