CFP: 2016 AAA annual Meeting, November 16-20, Minneapolis, MN

4-Dimensional Landscape Models: Thinking, Modeling, and Living With Environments Across Time


Discussant: Laura Ogden, Dartmouth College

Chair: Andrea Ballestero, Rice University

Organizers: Emily Brooks, UC Irvine and Lizzy Hare, UC Santa Cruz


As environmental scientists, practitioners, policy makers, and advocates work together to understand the past, manage the present, and interpret the future of landscapes and ecosystems, they rely on modeling practices to communicate complex material realities. These models act as tools of simplification, describing neatly circumscribed environmental features. In their production and circulation, they allow for translation and connection between individuals and groups, and across normally disparate registers of knowledge and expertise. At the same time, these modeling practices struggle to capture the surpluses of lived reality: the time, space, data, information, and materiality that exceed their grasp. Models may attempt to encompass temporal, spatial or mathematical concepts in excess of what can be apprehended through traditional empirical methods; and yet, the specter of surplus remains in the landscapes, ecosystems, and other environmental objects they help us conceptualize.


In this panel, we will explore how landscapes are haunted by the material and symbolic pasts and futures embedded within models and modeling practices. We employ the concept of “4-dimensional landscape models” to bring together scholarship that examines how landscape models - computational, conceptual, cosmological, technocratic - encompass timescales beyond the present day, whether they are used to comprehend the past, forecast the future, or both. We invite scholars to think about how modeling practices render and produce particular kinds of knowledge, when, and for whom. How do these models attempt to make sense of the way that local landscapes, ecosystems, or environmental objects “work?” How and when are scientific knowledges and practices, such as computational models, linked with or even invoked to support conceptual models of landscape change or stasis, such as wilderness, anthropogenic change, and disturbed or ruined ecosystems?


We encourage diverse perspectives from the intersection of environmental anthropology and science and technology studies. Potential topics could include, but are not limited to:

   Building 4-dimensional landscape models in the lab and/or the field

   How memory, ideology, experience, etc. are activated and rendered through 4-dimensional landscape models

   How and when particular people, plants, animals, etc. are evacuated or lost from models

   When models fail or break down as they fail to encompass the past, anticipate the future, or both

   How models make sense of (or fail to make sense of) surplus or absence

   Models designed to apprehend large-scale, long-term environmental shifts, such as climate change, or geological epochs like the Anthropocene

   The use of 4-dimensional landscape models for environments defined by the presence of absence of elemental flows, such as water (swamps, flood zones, deserts) or air (high altitude, deep sea)

   How models reckon with extreme environments and landscapes that cannot be directly observed or experienced by humans


Please send abstracts of 250 words to organizers Lizzy Hare ( and Emily Brooks ( by April 1, 2016, for notification by April 8, 2016. Participants will need to submit abstracts and register for the AAA Annual Meeting by April 15, 2016.