Special Issue of "Kulturanthropologie Notizen"

For a special issue called “Digital Transformations and Climate Change: Futures, Infrastructures, and Data” submissions that adopt a cultural anthropological and STS perspective can be submitted. Deadline: 15. May 2024



Call for Papers: Digital Transformations and Climate Change: Futures, Infrastructures and Data


Advancing digitalization and climate change are two topics that have increasingly attracted the attention of cultural anthropologists, STS researchers, sociologists, and human geographers in recent years. Both the modelling of climate developments and the adaptation of household appliances to the environment as well as the design of smart resilient cities are examples of the closely interlinked areas of digital predictions, visualizations, and applications in the context of climate change, digitalization, and environmental disasters.

Research has progressively engaged with the complex relationship between digitalization and knowledge. This includes identifying knowledge production as inherently socially and affectively embedded (Bruun et al., 2022), and emphasizing the performative and procedural character of (environmental) technology and knowledge. Drawing from feminist technoscience studies that used to explore the interplay among environment, technology, and gender, scholarly work has scrutinized these interactions through a critical lens focused on issues of gender inequality, power structures, and poststructuralist critiques since the 70s (cf. Bray 2013).

The discourse on "technology" that once captivated the public's imagination with visions of the future continues to be a critical focus of academic inquiry. However, the enthusiasm and critical examination that accompanied the advent of technology and environmental discussions have not been mirrored in the exploration of digital transformation. Despite the apparent overlap between socio-ecological systems and digital advancements, only recently studies started focusing on the linkage of digitalization and environmental issues. There remains a notable gap in research that integrates digitalization with environmental concerns, including climate change.

Therefore, we aim to focus on the interlinking of digital and environmental issues, such as those produced by climate change. Both phenomena influence each other: from the collection of geodata to the hope of technological fixes through artificial intelligence. Digitalization, as a process of transformation, along with digitization that converts nearly everything into calculable digital information, are permeating everyday life, bodies, and subjects, perpetuating existing inequalities and specific technological futures (Sareen and Müller, 2023).

We build upon research that investigates "smart forests" (Gabrys, 2020), climate technologies (Pasek, Vaughan, and Starosielski, 2023), cybersecurity and sustainability (Koksch and Sørensen 2023), data environments (Lippert, 2015) and futures (Abram et al. 2023), understanding digital transformations and climate change as inextricably intertwined. These studies enact and strengthen various notions not only of what is understood as climate change but also of the strategies that are its consequences. For example, Jennifer Gabrys (2017) views the environment as an experiment that is determined by how sensor technologies enact these. In this way, data technologies intervene in reality, creating distinct realities and making the environment calculable. Sensor technologies become naturalized as they integrate into the invisibilities of our everyday life.

Moreover, we aim to foster an understanding of how new digital-environmental technologies infrastructure daily life and how environmental information systems function as tools of power (Fortun, 2004).

We aim to delve into how digital processes and climate change interact with and influence each other. To achieve this, we invite contributions for an open-access issue in the Kulturanthropologie Notizen (peer-reviewed). We encourage submissions that adopt a cultural anthropological and STS perspective, underpinned by ethnographic insights that scrutinize futures, infrastructures, and data. Multimodal approaches to the topic are also welcome. We expect contributions that address the following questions, as well as other topics and issues beyond these:

  • To what extent does digitalization coin and influence how we perceive the environment, climate and our planetary future? How is this played out in daily practices?
  • How do new infrastructures resulting from the digitalization of the environment impact or perpetuate social inequality?
  • How do environmental information regimes exert power through new digital tools? Who has access to these technologies, and how are they utilized?
  • To what extent does digitalization influence not only how the environment and the future are understood, but also adjacent fields, for example, the financialization and the risk assessment of the environmental crisis?
  • How are the interlinkages between climate change and digitalization evoked through daily practices?
  • What can we learn from our field participants about the entanglements between smartness and climate change?

Abstracts with a length of 300 words can be submitted to Dennis Eckhardt (dennis.eckhardt[ at ]fau.de) and Kathrin Eitel (kathrin.eitel[ at ]uzh.ch) by May 15, 2024.

The final contributions with a word length of 6000 words are to be submitted by November 15, 2025.


More details

kathrin.eitel[ at ]uzh.ch

Send documents to

dennis.eckhardt[ at ]fau.de