Call for Papers
Issue #108: “Enclosures”
Issue Editors: Amy Chazkel and David Serlin
The Radical History Review seeks submissions for an issue dedicated to the theme of “Enclosures”: a term that refers to the twin phenomenon of proprietary demarcation and dispossession that has accompanied the global transition to industrial capitalism in cities and rural areas alike. In a variety of geographical and chronological contexts, this issue will explore both the symbolic and the literal, material senses of the historical process of enclosure.
Contemporary thinkers have evoked the concept of enclosure in a vast variety of settings and across the ideological spectrum, from Garrett Hardin’s prescriptive discussion of the “tragedy of the commons” and the neoliberal doctrine of the inherent instability of the commons, to E. P. Thompson’s studies of the social and legal conflicts over the peasantry’s use of the commons in early modern England. The concept of the commons has become a generic metaphor for public property—academic disciplinary knowledge and access to the airwaves, for example—and, by extension, the commonweal. Likewise, the enclosure of the commons has taken multiple meanings that extend the idea of the fencing off of common property in the interest of private gain and liberal (or neoliberal) individual property rights. As multifarious as it is, the concept of enclosure may provide a historically coherent way of considering disparate instances of conflicts over subsistence rights in the face of the division of property.
This special issue offers an opportunity to take stock of the idea of enclosure—to explore the connections between, for example, the type of “primitive accumulation” for which the term was originally applied and its more abstract, contemporary instances, and to historicize rigorously its application. To what degree was there ever really a “commons”? How did constructions of sacrosanct public space and its privatization and dispossession become naturalized features of cultural life? By collectively publishing work on such diverse phenomena as urban squatters throughout the world, intellectual property, or social conflicts over indigenous collective property rights in colonial and post-colonial settings, the journal editors aim to explore the limits of the usefulness of the concept of enclosure as a critical paradigm for understanding modern political and social life, and to consider how to connect its manifold manifestations.
While we would welcome submissions that revisit the early modern European context to which the term enclosure has typically been applied, we strongly encourage works from any time period, especially those that critically examine the broad applicability of the term and those that venture beyond the European and North American contexts.
The range of topics might include, but is not limited to, the following:
• Enclosure of the commons and the genesis of informal economies
• The historical roots of the privatized city
• Enclosure and the politics of population control
• The political and cultural uses of nostalgia for the “commons”
• Visual culture and the process of enclosure
• Environmental politics as part, or counterweight, to the process of enclosure
• Transnational historical perspectives on political and social movements such as Brazil’s and India’s respective anti-dam movements, or the struggle over the privatization of water in Bolivia
• Successful assertions of communal rights, for example in urban shantytowns and former runaway slave communities in the Americas: have they challenged the process of enclosure?
• Artistic, cinematic, or other cultural representations of enclosure and creative responses to it—for instance, in Agnès Varda’s cinéma verité classic, The Gleaners and I, or Britain’s punk and post-punk movements as aesthetic responses to Thatcher’s sweeping politics of privatization
• Enclosure and imperialism: what is the relationship between the domestic reapportioning of property rights and the possession of overseas territories? How can we connect the enclosure of the commons in the metropole to the fate of communally owned indigenous lands and other resources under colonial rule?
• The making of modern statecraft from the perspective of the “enclosers”: the surveyors, judges, and notaries who carried out the quotidian work of enclosure
• The politics of public space and the exclusionary “public sphere”
• Enclosure of the scientific commons and the commodification of knowledge
• The human genome as private property and the ownership of self
• The intellectual commons and radical approaches to intellectual and academic life
• Innovative uses of the cartographic and judicial records that enclosure left behind
• Critical reassessments of the classic works on enclosure, particularly E. P. Thompson and his cohort of Warwick School historians of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English agrarian society.
The RHR seeks scholarly research articles as well as such non-traditional contributions as photo essays, film and book review essays, interviews, brief interventions, “conversations” between scholars and/or activists, teaching notes and annotated course syllabi, and research notes.
Procedures for submission of articles:
By February 1, 2009, please submit a 1-2 page abstract summarizing the article you wish to include in this issue as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Issue 108 abstract submission” in the subject line. By March 1, 2009, authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their article for peer review. The due date for completed drafts of articles is August 1, 2009. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in issue 108 of the Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in Fall 2010. Articles should be submitted electronically with “Issue 108 submission” in the subject line. For artwork, please send images as high resolution digital files (each image as a separate file).
Abstract Deadline: February 1, 2009
Radical History Review
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