CFP: Relict Landscapes and the Past in the Present

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A NiCHE Series

Proposal Deadline: February 28th, 2024

Series Publication: Rolling Publication Starting Spring 2024

To carefully observe the human landscape is to become a time traveler. To interrogate our surroundings is to become a historian.

Cultural geographers and allied scholars have long understood that the human landscape, the combined features of places that people create and the meanings and emotions we attribute to them, is rich fodder for critique and for academic discourse. Elements such as buildings, parks, memorials, roads, and the diverse services that tie those together, collectively create a landscape that can be read; that is, they may be interpreted by the viewer whether through an ideological, nostalgic, scientific, or economic lens.1 These socially constructed places have meaning, and the impression we are left with is a function of the many conversations that are ongoing between these elements, and our reactions to them. The inclusion of these elements is not always well thought out, however, nor are these conversations always harmonious.

The human landscape is also a battlefield, a setting where cultures clash over representation, and often where representations of the weak are obliterated by those of the strong. Equally, it exists as a sort of scorecard of the constant tension between the past and the present, as modernity seeks to impose its identity on the visual scene of our settlements, at the expense of the past. Here, the past elements are the relicts of a long-passed landscape, orphans that though seemingly disharmonious to their surroundings, have survived into the present, nonetheless. In some cases, they may strike us as quaint, something whose day has long passed. In others, they are almost invisible, having been repurposed to serve the needs of the present. To identify their historical roots is not always easy, however, and we must search carefully for clues to their origins. This series seeks to explore those instances where elements of past landscapes have persevered to today, despite that modernistic threat, and how they can serve as windows into the history of our communities, and of those who came before.

We welcome proposals for blog posts of 800-1200 words, as well as proposals for topics better suited to multimodal formats (photo essays, video essays, audio content, and visual or multimedia art). There are no limits to historical scope.

Some possible topics for contributions to the series could include:
• The Indigenous past as it has survived being overwritten by newcomers
• The destroyed past in the present (ex. abandoned infrastructure)
• Contested elements of the past in the present: (ex. the case of historical monuments or memorials)
• Historical structures repurposed for present-day use (ex. TB hospitals or sanatoria)
• The landscape of the past in conflict with that of the present

Contributors might consider any of these themes in this CFP or are free to propose their own. Please submit proposals of 200-250 words with a short bio of 100-150 words to series editors Paul Hackett [paul.hackett [at]] by 28 February 2024. Contributors are welcome to reach out with questions or to talk through ideas. Contributors will be notified of acceptance by 28 March 2024.

An honorarium is available to NiCHE contributors who work without equitable, adequate access to institutional support. If you could benefit from an honorarium, please indicate this in your email.

We look forward to your submissions.

[1] Meinig, D.W., ed. 1979. The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes: Geographical Essays. New York: Oxford University Press.
Feature Image: “Land of wonder” by Alberto Berlini is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
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