Putting Rooted Networks Into Practice


  • Alida Cantor Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA
  • Elisabeth A. Stoddard Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA
  • Dianne Rocheleau Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA
  • Jennifer F. Brewer University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA
  • Robin Roth University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  • Trevor Birkenholtz University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA
  • Katherine Foo Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA
  • Padini Nirmal Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA


Rooted networks, political ecology, social movements, power, territory, naturecultures, decolonization


Rooted networks provide a conceptual framework that embeds network thinking in nature-society geography in order to investigate socio-ecological relations, while emphasizing the place-specific materiality of these relations. This progress report examines how geographers have put the framework into scholarly practice. The conceptual approach has enabled researchers to: 1) articulate the territoriality and materiality of networks as assemblages, which may be simultaneously rooted and mobile; 2) discern diverse types of power that flow through network connections; and 3) conduct analyses that unearth multiply-situated knowledges within networks. Challenges emerge as we seek to integrate the approach more fully with disciplinary traditions, including organizing complex relationships into bounded scholarly formats; choosing which aspects of the network are most salient to analyze; and illustrating networks for effective communication. We describe the ways in which rooted networks can be used as a tool for action, as a pedagogical guide, and to strengthen collective capacity to imagine and negotiate alternative futures based on ‘seeing multiple.’ Finally, we call for geographers and other scholars, researchers and activists to build upon a rooted networks framework as a tool for design, analysis, understanding and communication in the search for more socially just and ecologically viable futures.

Author Biographies

Alida Cantor, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography


Elisabeth A. Stoddard, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA

Assistant Teaching ProfessorUndergraduate Studies
Social Science and Policy StudiesCo-directorCenter for Sustainable Food Systems

Dianne Rocheleau, Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA


Graduate School of Geography


Jennifer F. Brewer, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA

Associate Professor

Department of Geography


Robin Roth, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Associate Professor

Department of Geography


Trevor Birkenholtz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA

Associate Professor

Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science


Katherine Foo, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA

Assistant Teaching Professor, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies


Padini Nirmal, Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA

Lecturer, Graduate School of Geography


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How to Cite

Cantor, A., Stoddard, E. A., Rocheleau, D., Brewer, J. F., Roth, R., Birkenholtz, T., … Nirmal, P. (2018). Putting Rooted Networks Into Practice. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 17(4), 958–987. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1289