Land Use Scales and Systems Questions


DEUTERO: Who is thinking or worrying about the impacts of varied land use in a reflective manner? When/where/with whom are the scalar impacts of certain land uses recognized or acknowledged (or are unseen or ignored)?

META: What forms of land tenure, management, and use are imagined or desired for the future (near and far)? What discourses dominate how land use is conceptualized, and what competing discourses circulate? Where do these narratives play out, and who are the audiences? What discursive histories are drawn upon to articulate contemporary desires for particular formations of use and management?

MACRO: What forms of land tenure have existed historically and exist in the present, and how have these shaped land use and management? What historical, economic, political, and cultural conditions have shaped property and land management regimes in this place? What laws, political/legal structures, and economic drivers have encouraged or discouraged particular types of land use? How do sovereignties (federal, state, county, municipal, district, neighborhood) intersect, overlap, and resist each other, and how are legacies of settler colonialism and segregation at work? (How are these overlapping sovereignties in the contexts of land use and management adjudicated?) How have varied forms of land tenure affected who makes land management and use decisions and in whose interests?

MESO: What groups, networks, and publics seek to participate in land and resource governance? What forms of political organization have been developed in order to call for or enact particular forms of land management? What stratifications (of income, race, gender, species) have been produced, exacerbated, politicized, or transformed through decisions about and forms of land use? What social affinities and political solidarities have emerged in response?

MICRO: What kinds of land use are carried out in this place? What practices make up efforts to shape land use/management? How is “public participation” organized, encouraged, valued or discounted? How do people understand structures guiding land use and land management decisions to work (or dysfunction)?

NANO: What cultural frames and dispositions shape what types of land use and management are considered desirable, possible, or morally good? What data, forms of analysis, and modes of expression are persuasive and consequential regarding land use decisions (and to which audiences)? How is “good” land use associated with other moral logics (e.g. good governance, good economies, good communities)?

EXDU: What forms of education about land use and management exist in this space, and who provides this education? By whose logics and practices is this education organized? What kinds of education may be needed in this setting to build shared understandings and collaborative capacity for guiding land use and management?

DATA: What data are produced about the land/resources, land use, and land management?

How do various individuals and groups understand the  proper conduct for producing and interpreting data to develop a viable knowledge-base for effective and morally good land management? What data infrastructures have been developed, are being developed, or are perceived as necessary? Who has access to these data and sense-making tools? How and what kind of data is being visualized, inscribed, authorized, disseminated, and mobilized to shape future land use? Who participates in data-making, and who is excluded from that process?

TECHNO: How does technology enable particular kinds of land use? What technologies are used to produce data about the setting and its use?

BIO: How are bodies (human and non-human) in this setting differentially impacted by current and historical forms of land tenure, management, and use? What health impacts and indicators need to be accounted for and addressed in relation to land use in this setting? How are these embodied inequalities naturalized, racialized, homogenized, erased, and/or politicized?

ECO-ATMO: What effects do current or historical forms of land tenure, management, and use have on the ecological health of this place? What ecosystems are depended on, protected, or compromised to enable certain land uses, and how is this recognized (or not)? How do conceptualizations of ecosystems and ecological health shape land use and management decisions in this setting? How are characteristics of climate change impacting this setting?

GEO: How have geologic characteristics of this space shaped what kinds of land use are possible/feasible? How have varied forms of land use marked, shaped, and marred the landscapes of this setting? What anthropocenic conditions exist in this setting?


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Contributed date

March 7, 2019 - 10:02pm

Critical Commentary

This set of analytic questions is a variation of the Quotidian Anthropocene 12 scales and systems questions and can be used to interrogate land use—attending to use, management, and tenure—across study locations and generate data for productive site comparison.



Cite as

Danica Loucks, "Land Use Scales and Systems Questions", contributed by Neak Loucks, Disaster STS Network, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 May 2019, accessed 13 August 2022.