CFP AAG 2021: Digital Ecologies

Call for Papers: AAG Annual Meeting 2021, 7 – 11 April, Seattle, USA

Please note: this conference panel will be held VIRTUALLY

Digital Ecologies

Convened by: Henry Anderson-Elliott – University of Cambridge; Jonathon
Turnbull – University of Cambridge; Adam Searle – University of


Human engagements with other-than-human life are increasingly digitised;
from the widespread consumption of wildlife documentary films, to the
deployment of novel technologies in wildlife conservation and
management, to the livestreaming of animals’ private lives via hidden
cams. Plants, too, are rendered cyborg, as digital technologies are
increasingly used to foster and aid the management of ‘smart forests’.
Digital animals, moreover, have themselves proliferated; some of which
can be encountered in virtual or augmented realities like Pokémon Go as
distinct ontological beings. Virtual encounters with nature, therefore,
are an increasingly common part of human-nature relations and
entanglements. Equally, ecologies themselves are increasingly known and
made knowable through digital monitoring systems. In this session, we
explore the term ‘digital ecologies’; understood as the new, old, and/or
emerging forms of encounter, engagement, governance, and accountability
that arise from these technologically mediated more-than-human networks.
We seek to foster critical conversations between more-than-human
geographies, political ecology, digital geographies, and media studies
(as well as cognate fields of study) to understand the varying ways in
which nonhumans are digitised and for what purposes; the specific
affective relations engendered through, and capacities of,
digitally-mediated natures; how digital mediation is experienced by
nonhumans themselves; the promises and problems of digital ecologies for
conservation; and the ways in which novel forms of virtual encounter
value are produced.

We invite contributions in all empirical areas. They could explore:

• The role of digital technologies in conservation;
• GPS-tracking animals;
• Virtual animal/plant encounters;
• Media representations of animals/plants;
• Animals/plants in film, animal/plant photography;
• Virtual encounter value;
• Virtual or augmented reality and ecology;
• Ecologies and materialities of the digital;
• Digital ecologies and the ‘smart city’;
• Social media and digital ecologies;
• Digital ecologies and affect;
• Digital ecologies and spectacle;
• The promise of the digital for more-than-human methodologies;
• Digital urban ecologies.

Some key readings include:

• Adams, W. M. (2017) Geographies of Conservation II: Technologies,
Surveillance and Conservation by Algorithm, Progress in Human Geography,
DOI: 10.1177/0309132517740220.
• Adams, W. M. (2020) “Digital Animals.” The Philosopher 108, no. 1.
• Ash, J., Kitchin, R. and Leszczynski, A. (2016) Digital turn, digital
geographies? Progress in Human Geography, 42(1): 25-43.
• Benson, E. (2010) Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the
Making of Modern Wildlife. John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.
• Bergman, C. (2005) Inventing a beast with no body: Radio-telemetry,
the marginalization of animals, and the simulation of ecology.
Worldviews, 9(2): 255-270.
• Berland, J. (2019) Virtual Menageries: Animals as Mediators in Network
Cultures. The MIT Press.
• Büscher, B. (2016),‘Nature 2.0: Exploring and theorizing the links
between new media and nature conservation’, New Media & Society, 18:5,
pp. 726–43.
• Chambers, C. (2007) “Well its remote, I suppose, innit?” The
relational politics of bird-watching through the CCTV lens. Scottish
Geographical Journal, 123(2): 122-134.
• Davies, G. (2000), ‘Virtual animals in electronic zoos: The changing
geographies of animal capture and display’, in C. Philo and C. Wilbert
(eds), Animal Spaces, Beastly Places: New Geographies of Human–Animal
Relations, London: Routledge, pp. 243–67.
• Gabrys, J. (2020) Smart forests and data practices: From the Internet
of Trees to planetary governance. Big Data & Society, 1-10.
• Lorimer, J. (2010) Moving image methodologies for more-than-human
geographies. Cultural Geographies, 17(2): 237-258.
• Rose, G. (2017) Posthuman agency in the digitally mediated city:
Exteriorization, individuation, reinvention. Annals of the American
Association of Geographers 107(4): 779-793.
• Turnbull, J., Searle, A., and Adams, W. M. (2020) Quarantine
encounters with digital animals: More-than-human geographies of lockdown
life. Journal of Environmental Media 1 (Supplement): 6.1-10.
• Verma, A., van der Wal, R. and Fischer, A. (2016), ‘Imagining
wildlife: New technologies and animal censuses, maps and museums’,
Geoforum, 75, pp. 75–86.
• Virtual Animals. Special issue of Antennae, issue 30, winter 2014,
ISSN 1756-9575.

Please send abstracts of approximately 250 words to Jonathon Turnbull
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Adam Searle (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), and Henry
Anderson-Elliott (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by midnight on October 31st. We
welcome contributions from academics, artists, and practitioners
concerned with digital ecologies, and are particularly keen to host
those who deploy digital technologies in their presentations. Please
don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or comments you may