CFP: Analytics for the Anthropocene: Socioecological futures and scale

Call for Papers, 2017 AAG Annual Meeting, Boston, MA April 5-9, 2017.
Session Title:
Analytics for the Anthropocene: Socioecological futures and scale
Organizers: Elizabeth S. Barron (Univ. of Wisconsin Oshkosh) and Deborah Scott (Univ. of Edinburgh)

The Anthropocene has rapidly amassed power in the past few years, even as it is not yet formally recognized by geologists. Discussions on the Anthropocene tend to rely on certain scalar framings: the Earth as a single ontological space, humanity acting as a global force through its institutions, time as a linear path. Thinking through the Anthropocene seems to encourage (or perhaps require) Nature, Society, and History to be materially global, institutionally international, and temporally linear.

As human geographers work with the Anthropocene as an object of analysis or as a framing device, scale is an aspect requiring critical attention. Yet, questions of scale seem to have taken a back seat to questions of justice and adaptation in and for the Anthropocene. This is especially noteworthy in several of the articles in the recent special issue of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers: “Futures: Imagining Socioecological Transformation,” (2015). These scholars display thoughtful attention to the work they are hoping their research will do, to “imagining and engendering just and sustainable alternatives to existing political, economic, and ecological practices” (Braun 2015, 239), but few explicitly address the scalar configurations being produced, the levels at which they are choosing to engage, or, alternatively, what a “flat” Anthropocene could be (c.f. Marston, Jones & Woodward 2005).

Without careful attention, it is all too easy to naturalize scale in discussions of power, place and transformative politics. Calls for justice and adaptation in socioecological futures often implicitly critique global framings of problems or alternatives, asserting the value of local places, communities, and situated knowledges. Awareness of scale refocuses our analytical attention on the multi-level nature of scales (or forces us to consider a flat ontology); awareness of socioecological futures reminds us multiple epistemological interventions are possible and necessary in the Anthropocene. For example, the recent special issue of Journal of Political Ecology asks scholars to consider the utility of the “region” both as a heuristic for analysis, and as a performative concept that can be traced (see McKinnon & Hiner 2016; Simon 2016).

We would like to bring political ecologists’ attention to (and questioning of) scale to the conversation on socioecological futures, and are interested in work sitting at the intersection of these parallel discussions. We are open to a range of papers, from the conceptual to the methodological. Possible topics/papers may include but are not limited to:

·        Novel ways of thinking about scale, place and power

·        Scalar framings of the Anthropocene

·        The politics of scale in sustainability discourses

·        The role of environmental knowledge(s) in contemporary scalar configurations

·        Scale and the production of place

·        Moving from scalar hierarchies to cultivating a “politics of horizontal extent, reach, and association” (St Martin et al. 2015, 16)

·        Reflexive engagement with demands for research to be ‘scaled up’ in nature-society scholarship

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to the session organizers, Elizabeth Barron ( and Deborah Scott (, by 7 October 2016


Literature Cited:

Braun, B. 2015. Futures: Imagining socioecological transformation – an introduction. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105(2), 239-243.

Marston, Sallie A., John Paul Jones III and Keith Woodward. 2005. Human geography without scale. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30(4), 416-432.

McKinnon. I. & C.C. Hiner. 2016. Does the region still have relevance? (re)considering “regional” political ecology. Journal of political ecology 23: 115-122.

Kevin St. Martin, Gerda Roelvink, & J. K. Gibson-Graham. 2015. Introduction: An Economic Politics for Our Times, in Making Other Worlds Possible: Performing Diverse Economies. Eds. Gerda Roelvink, Kevin St. Martin, & J. K. Gibson-Graham. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

Simon, G. 2016. How regions do work, and the work we do: a constructive critique of regions in political ecology. Journal of political ecology 23: 197-203