Keeping time with digital technologies: From real-time environments to forest futurisms

Kate Lewis Hood, Jennifer Gabrys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forests are zones of multiple temporalities. They keep time and are constituted through time-keeping practices. Digital technologies of environmental monitoring and management increasingly organise forest temporalities. This article considers how emerging techno-temporalities measure, pace, and transform forest worlds while reproducing and reconfiguring longer durations of colonial and capitalist technologies. We draw together scholarship on political forests, digital media temporalities, and anti-colonial and Indigenous thinking to analyse the politics of time that materialise through digital technologies and shape what forest pasts, presents, and futures are senseable and possible. In particular, we trace the socio-technical production of the ‘real-time’ as a temporal register of experiencing, knowing, and governing forest environments. Analysing a real-time deforestation alert system in the Amazon, we consider how these temporalities valorise immediate, continuous forest data that can be mobilised for understanding and protecting forests, while simultaneously glossing over durational colonial and capitalist framings of forests that rely on dispossession, extraction, and enclosure. The second half of the article turns to Indigenous futurisms and artistic and socio-political uses of digital platforms that rework forest temporalities. By analysing these multiple and sometimes contradictory temporalities, we suggest that these practices and interventions can challenge dominant timelines and their inequities through pluralistic and redistributive configurations of temporality, land, and data sovereignty.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2024


  • digital technology
  • temporality
  • forests
  • real-time
  • futurisms

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