Often seen as diametric opposites, digital technologies and the natural world have received limited examination together in digital geographies and political ecology. Though as recent events as diverse as President Trump's Hurricane Dorian #sharpiegate, the September 20th #climatestrike, and Greta Thunberg's viral North Atlantic journey have documented, there is extensive overlap between the digital and the environmental, necessitating increased critical scholarship between the two.


The places for our engagement are myriad. Although topics such as e-waste have long been examined under the purview of political ecology, recent advances in cloud computing, computational methods, and digital hardware on top of dramatic increases in the quantity of digital media are having unprecedented environmental impacts on the Earth. At the same time, digital technologies that capture exponentially more data about the environment are often cited as the means by which to achieve sustainability and mitigate environmental destruction. Digital technologies are also increasingly mediating human-environment interactions, reshaping and reframing the environment around digital data.

Digital environmental philanthropy initiatives run by sites such as Pornhub tie digital actions to real-world environmental actions. Digital technologies are also responsible for mobilizing awareness and action on climate and environmental issues, as evidenced by the recent #climatestrike movement. With all these variegated interplays between the environment and digital technologies in mind, this session broadly explores the ways in which digital technologies and the environment intersect and interact. To this end, presentation topics might include but are not limited to:


  • How digital technologies are reshaping agriculture and food systems

  • How e-waste is changing patterns of disposal/reuse/recycling

  • Smart cities and environmental management

  • The environmental impacts of cloud computing (i.e. bitcoin mining)

  • Digital mediations of the environment

  • The epistemic and ontological implications of environmental data and modeling

  • Narratives and discourses of sustainability in precision agriculture

  • Techno-utopianism in climate change discourse

  • Environmental and climate change data in the post-truth era

  • Digital technologies and climate change/environmental movements

  • Digital environmental philanthropy

  • Other critical examinations of digital technologies and the environment


All topics regardless of their geographic and temporal settings are welcomed to apply.

Titles and abstracts of no more than 300 word should be directed to Jack Swab (jswab@uky.edu) and Julie Saperstein (JDSaperstein@uky.edu) by Friday, October 25. Feel free to email with any questions as well. For more information about the conference, please visit: https://www.politicalecology.org/

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