CfP: Digital Natures: Reworking Epistemologies, Ontologies and Politics Special Issue for the journal Digital Geography and Society

Abstracts deadline: 18th December 2020. Please submit abstracts of up to 250 words to
Andrés Luque-Ayala (a.e.luque@durham.ac.uk), Eric Nost (enost@uoguelph.ca) and Ruth
Machen (ruth.machen@newcastle.ac.uk). Final paper submissions will be expected between
May–July 2021.

Increasingly societal engagements with nature occur through digital encounters, processes,
and technologies. Whether it is via robotic bees mobilised for pollination purposes, smart-
phone apps directing city dwellers towards natural environments, the growing digitalization
of infrastructural flows, or the radical transformation of biology and conservation through
data and sensors, digital interventions are reconfiguring our encounters with the natural
world. Rather than simply a digital mediation of a pre-existing nature, what is at stake is a
transformation in the ways in which we come to know, experience, and conceptualise nature,
as much as a resignification of the ways and means by which nature matters.

This Special Issue on ‘Digital Natures’ seeks to examine how engagements with digital
technologies and practices are reshaping the ways in which nature is understood and
conceptualised, alongside an interrogation of the political implications of such
transformations. To date, critical geographers working on digital issues have engaged with a
myriad of topics, from cities and labour to surveillance and activism, among many others.
Yet, the limited direct attention that ‘natural’ environments—and the very idea of
nature—have received is a sign that geographical work at the digital–nature intersection is
only just emerging. Much of the research that does exist in this domain has sought to
characterize the biophysical and environmental imbrications of the digital (e.g. Lally et al.
2019; Gabrys 2016), its involvement in environmental governance (e.g. Bakker and Ritts
2018), and the rise of technologically enhanced futures through a combination of digital
logics and nonhuman life (e.g. Johnson 2020). Both drawing on and extending this work, we
seek to more explicitly explore the ways in which ‘the digital’ reworks or reinforces existing
epistemologies, ontologies, and politics of (N)ature. We do this by outlining a general
question: how does the digital shape how we inhabit and conceptualise nature, and to what
extent does this open up possibilities for contesting or foreclosing a politics of nature? To
answer it, this Special Issue seeks empirically-rich yet conceptually-led contributions
addressing one or some of the follow questions:

● How, and with what implications, do digital practices and technologies transform how
we come to know and engage with nature?

● In which ways, and by which means, do digital interventions transform the
nature–society relationship, and the agencies and subjectivities involved?

● In which ways does the encounter between ‘the digital’ and ‘the natural’ lead to
emerging conceptualizations of the being / new ways of being? To novel
understandings of life and its hybrids, alongside new ways of securing it?

● How do digital technologies shape—reinforce, alter, or counter—discourses and/or
ideologies of nature? How does an engagement with digital practices and technologies
change the ways and aims by which nature is controlled, governed or appropriated?
With what political implications?

● What kinds of language (beyond or alongside digital-organic binaries, cyborgs,
metabolisms, entanglements or hybridities) might help us to better understand the
forms and relations of emergent digital-natures?

We encourage critical perspectives that, drawing on varied empirical and/or technological
domains and practices, outline broader analytical implications for the conceptualization of
nature–society relations. Empirically, this includes domains such as conservation and
biodiversity, agriculture, urban planning, climate change, infrastructures, environmental
governance, planetary regulation, land management, natural resources, atmospheric science,
molecular biology, genetics, and animal geographies, among others. From the perspective of
technology and digital practices, this includes the use of algorithms and other forms of
calculation/recombination, software and hardware packages, platform services, geolocation
and digital mapping, digital visualization, sensors and the Internet of Things, gaming
technologies, hacking practices, machine learning, and forms of digital automation, among
others.

Abstracts deadline: 18th December 2020. Please submit abstracts of up to 250 words to
Andrés Luque-Ayala (a.e.luque@durham.ac.uk), Eric Nost (enost@uoguelph.ca) and Ruth
Machen (ruth.machen@newcastle.ac.uk). Final paper submissions will be expected between
May–July 2021.

NOTE: Digital Geography and Society is an open access journal. The journal editors have
agreed to wave Article Publishing Charges for this Special Issue for abstracts submitted
within the above timeframe.

Reference works
● Bakker, K. and M. Ritts (2018). Smart Earth: A meta-review and implications for environmental
governance. Global Environmental Change 52: 201-211.
● Boucquey, N., K. St. Martin, L. Fairbanks, L.M. Campbell, and S. Wise (2019). Ocean data portals:
Performing a new infrastructure for ocean governance. Environment and Planning D: Society and
Space 37 (3):484–503.
● Büscher, B., S. Koot, and I.L. Nelson (2017). Introduction. Nature 2.0: New media, online activism and
the cyberpolitics of environmental conservation. Geoforum 79: 111–113.
● Calvillo, N. and E. Garnett (2019). Data intimacies: Building infrastructures for intensified embodied
encounters with air pollution. The Sociological Review 67(2): 340-356.
● Gabrys, J. (2016). Program earth: Environmental sensing technology and the making of a
computational planet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
● Johnson, E (2020) Biomimetic Geopolitics: The Earth, Inside Out. Techniques & Culture [Online] 73:
journals.openedition.org/tc/13832
● Lally, N., K. Kay, and J. Thatcher (2019). Computational parasites and hydropower: A political
ecology of Bitcoin mining on the Columbia River. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space:
DOI 10.1177/2514848619867608
● Leonelli, S. (2016). Data-centric biology: A philosophical study. University of Chicago Press.
● McLean, J. (2019). Changing Digital Geographies: Technologies, Environments and People. Palgrave
Macmillan.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s