2021 SEA Annual Meeting

Landscapes of Value/Economies of Place

Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, MO
March 4-6, 2021

Cosponsored with Culture and Agriculture

Program Co-Chairs:

Andrea Rissing
Ohio State University

Brad Jones
Washington University at St. Louis

Call for Papers

At the 2021 meeting of the Society of Economic Anthropology, we will explore the multiple, contradictory ways through which people imbue landscapes and places with value. Cosponsored with the AAA’s Culture and Agriculture section, the theme “Landscapes of Value/Economies of Place” is deliberately capacious. It includes farmland investors and land reform advocates, calculating the costs of bushfires and extracting natural resources, forensic ‘body farms’ and Cahokia mounds, gentrifying neighborhoods and cap-and-trade markets. It also includes the various efforts to homogenize diverse economic landscapes, and the counter-efforts that seek to secure and sediment place-based boundaries. It attends to the ways in which landscapes and locales have been branded, bought, and sold at different places and times, and how regional actors work to imagine and institutionalize economic formations less dominated by market logics. It asks, what non-monetary values are revealed through people’s relationships to diverse landscapes? And with what unexpected landscapes do people interface in their efforts to generate, capture, or exchange value?

Many processes of interest to anthropologists — globalization, localization, protectionism, commodification, enclosure — are inescapably place-based. These processes shape and are shaped by the specific ecologies, historical legacies, cultural perspectives, existing infrastructures, and institutional priorities in which they unfold. By using the lenses of landscapes and places, we hope to interrogate how such processes (and the generative tensions between them) have played out differently in different parts of the world, at different historical junctures.

At this conference we seek to place in productive dialogue the theme’s multiple meanings. For instance, as forests burn to expand cattle grazing in the Amazon, tensions arise between the value(s) of productive farmland, global commodity markets, national GDP, subsistence livelihoods, indigenous cosmologies, and ecosystem services. Likewise, as cities become sites of international tourism (e.g. Venice), conflicts emerge over the worth of cultural heritage, culinary/craft practices, local production, displaced populations, democratic process, and the global marketplace. In short, landscapes of value transform at the same time as the value of landscapes. Place-based economies can persist, sometimes thrive, as places enter global economic regimes.

We seek papers and posters that engage “Landscapes of Value / Economies of Place” from diverse vantage points, ethnographically, spatially, and historically. Do people’s economic relationships to present landscapes differ in degree or in kind from the past and the probable future? How do such complex processes play out differently across specific locations? Who stands to benefit, and who bears the cost? What contexts best exemplify or complicate these general dynamics? What meanings, values, production processes, livelihood strategies, economic formations are changing (and which resist change), and with what everyday and extraordinary consequences?

We welcome empirically-grounded papers and posters on topics that explore but are certainly not limited to the following topics:

  • Economic efforts to regain, retain, or reinvent place-based practices, meanings, and livelihoods in the face of commodification or corporate governance
  • Comparing frameworks for determining, pursuing, conserving, or exploiting values understood to be embedded in landscapes
  • Competing indices or metrics for judging a landscape’s value.
  • Landscape management policies, implemented at different scales and different times.
  • Creative countervailing forces to processes of economic globalization, including local currencies, community financing, alternative economies, or land trusts.
  • Landscape changes and landscape-based responses to globalizing commodity chains, transnational trade, international tourism, or other processes of globalization.
  • Marketing specific places as sites of tourism, heritage, investment, or resource extraction
  • Agriculture’s impacts on landscape and climate, and climate’s impacts on agriculture, past and present.
  • Land development as enacting and/or envisioning particular values in rural, suburban, and urban locales
  • Processes of localization, embedding, or social protectionism in particular places.
  • Struggles between competing agrarian and agroindustrial visions of landscape valuation
  • Effects of technologies, such as agricultural, energy, transportation, or waste disposal, on landscapes past and present.
  • Dynamics and differential effects of investment in place: including (re)development, gentrification, urbanization, extraction, and displacement in specific times and locales.
  • The landscape features of cemeteries and burial grounds as reflecting and enacting certain values.
  • People’s investment in landscapes and places with which they do not physically engage, emotionally, financially, or otherwise.

Paper and Poster Submission Guidelines




Conference Venue: Washington University in St. Louis


Travel and Accommodations

Conference attendees traveling by air should fly into St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), which is approximately 10 miles from the Washington University campus (7 miles as the crow flies).

Information about conference lodging is TBA.