CfP | Big data & Environmental Humanities | European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology | 31 août 2018

La revue European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology fait un appel à contributions pour un numéro spécial sur le thème “Big Data and the Environmental Humanities”, édité par John Parham (University of Worcester, UK) and Scott Slovic (University of Idaho). 

Date limite de soumission : 31 août 2018.



Call for papers


Ecologically, we are confronted by forms of potential destruction that cannot immediately be seen – processes of species extinction, pollution, climate change, that Timothy Morton has called ‘hyperobjects’. This is not a new cultural dilemma. Morton suggests that the nineteenth century witnessed an increasingly fearful perception of its own hyperobjects – geological time, evolution, the conservation or dissolution of energy. This anxiety was sharpened by the very factors – intensive agriculture, mass industry, capital, the growth of cities – that Andreas Malm (Fossil Capital) argues underlie the current environmental crisis and the emergence of the ‘Anthropocene’, the apparent new epoch defined by humans’ permanent alteration of the Earth’s geological structure and atmosphere.

Hyperobjects such as mass extinction, climate or atmospheric change, and pollution, have been captured by statistics, graphs or tables or, where the data is particularly vast, by methods of computer-generated visualisation. Yet in what may be read as a sign of humanity’s mounting hysteria, such attempts to quantify environmental crisis have often amounted to a bombardment or saturation of data that adds to rather than allays extreme anxiety. Moreover, the very tools by which we measure (computers, processors, software packages) can often themselves be symptomatic of the crisis – whether in emphasising our reliance on capital and technology or in highlighting traits of attempted mastery or human control. Nevertheless, while political, ethical, and aesthetic conundrums inform how we manage and communicate complex environmental information, ‘information management [remains] central to millennial citizenship,’ as Heather Houser (2014) has argued.

This proposed issue will explore the myriad ways in which ‘big’ environmental data generated by scientific or social scientific research, and often mediated through information technology, might be visualised into palatable forms that display and communicate the unseen workings of hyperobjects. Taking a lead from Marx’s deployment of metaphor (fetishism or metabolism), particular (though not exclusive) attention will be paid to the role that affective forms – such as art, culture, and literature – can play in short-circuiting the inadequacies, inaccessibility or tediousness of rational explanation and by deploying signification and/or affect towards a perception of complex or invisible processes. Existing examples range from the amalgamation of statistics, narrative and biography that characterises classic social science to a more recent advocacy of online interactive visualisation tools as a means for users to apprehend the reality of something like climate change that lacks direct temporal or spatial presence; or from Thom van Dooren’s reflections on how the photograph of a nest-laying albatross captures the Anthropocene’s ‘dynamic tension’ between a ‘long history of life on this planet’ in which humans are insignificant and our ‘incredible significance’ now in potentially ‘unmaking’ it to Timothy Clark’s suggestion that literature and literary devices (such as narrative or focalisation) can open up a recognition of the environmental consequences of our actions and/or renewed possibilities for how we might live with or within nature.

In this context of exploring the possibilities and problems in how we manage, visualise and communicate complex environmental information, we invite full essays designed to address the ways in which particular kinds of texts clarify and concretise abstract information on issues ranging from climate change to species extinction. Articles should seek, in particular, to explore the practical implications of these modes: to what extent might such texts help us identify environmental problems; what forms of intervention can these representations offer, encourage or restrict; how might information facilitate ‘ground level’ interventions in (say) citizen science or journalism? We ask, therefore, that all papers address the question of how big data can be channelled – within the complex crosscurrents of culture, science and political power – to communicate urgent environmental imperatives in effective and potentially transformative ways.

Themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Case studies of forms and media that visualise otherwise inaccessible environmental information, such as artworks, graphics, photography, interactive/online simulations, maps and mapping;
  • The representation of environmental big data in visual media such as ‘ecocinema’, television, installation art, computer games;
  • Literary genres and modes (e.g. narrative, poetics, focalisation, etc);
  • ‘Scientific’ representational modes and strategies:
    • Statistics, graphs, charts, tables, etc;
    • Data visualisations
    • Earth mapping
  • Aesthetics, e.g. spectacle, focalisation, framing;
  • The communication of complex environmental information as political intervention, action or protest;
  • And interventions in localised action, citizen science, citizen journalism;
  • Representation and/or the communication of data in journalism, environmental activism, social science, and/or policy documents.

The European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology is a peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge. The journal publishes work that considers cultural phenomena in relation to political context, political phenomena within a cultural framework, and points in between.

Articles should be 6–7,000 words and conform to the journal’s style guide –see [Note: the journal is published in UK English and authors should use the relevant spelling convention (e.g. ‘organisation’ rather ‘organization’)]. Please upload full articles to the journal’s online submission platform ScholarOne by the deadline, Friday 31st August 2018. Each article will be refereed and a decision on which articles will be published is expected by the end of the year. The special issue is due to be published in 2019. Please direct any enquiries to


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Honorine Tellier (2018, 15 mai). CfP | Big data & Environmental Humanities | European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology | 31 août 2018. Animots. Consulté le 16 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Honorine Tellier

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