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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Design and Culture

For a Special Issue on
Against Infrastructures of Harm: Engaging Designs and Geographies of Containment

Abstract deadline
15 June 2021

Manuscript deadline
30 September 2021

Cover image - Design and Culture

Special Issue Editor(s)

Paula Austin, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies, Boston University
[email protected]

Shana Agid, Associate Professor of Arts, Media, and Communication, Parsons School of Design / The New School
[email protected]

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Against Infrastructures of Harm: Engaging Designs and Geographies of Containment

Designers and scholars from a range of fields engage in research and practice in relation to prisons, jails, detention centers, border control sites, police stations, identity documents, and other forms, structures, and spaces whose purpose—stated or unstated—is to maintain an infrastructure for human capture, punishment, enslavement, and slow death. Architect and scholar Mabel O. Wilson has described “carceral architectures”—inclusive of and also exceeding the built environment—as endemic to the logics of racialization and racism that shaped Enlightenment nation- and civic-building projects. These designed systems, sites, materials, and mechanisms, elements of what historian Stephanie Camp identified as “geographies of containment,” are both invisible and hyper-visible, depending on political and cultural discourse; one’s proximity or distance from them; and the ease or difficulty with which one navigates them, if a person senses coming into contact with them at all. At the same time, communities and people targeted by these systems have responded to and engaged with spaces and sites of confinement, whether implicitly or explicitly marked, to address their harms or to render them obsolete through what Alfredo Borrero calls “designs with other names” and Ruth Wilson Gilmore calls “abolition geographies.”

For this special issue of Design and Culture, we seek articles, photo essays, or other proposed forms that explore these issues from historical and / or contemporary perspectives through questions including, but not limited to:

  • What are the historical and/or geographic landscapes that shape the making and unmaking of systems and spaces of control and confinement? How are “designers” (traditional and otherwise) active in these contexts?
  • How does design reveal ways of understanding histories, geographies, or temporalities of containment?
  • How does engaging with histories of capture and control in design research inform politics, ethics, and cultures of design?
  • What design or making practices do designers and those “outside” design - community-based organizers, practitioners, and others - engage to make, or unmake, geographies of containment? What impacts have these had?

Far from stable, “carceral architectures” and other “geographies of containment” are sites of constant reimagining in which the common sense of control is interpreted materially and relationally through cycles of reform, retrenchment, and rebellion. Special issue editors look forward to pieces that are historical or contemporary, as the questions above indicate.

Submission Instructions

To propose an entry, please submit an abstract by June 15 to [email protected] and [email protected] (500 words maximum, with no more than 2 pages of images, if relevant) and bio (250 words maximum). Editors will invite submissions of full papers / pieces for peer review by July 1 and full articles will be due September 30. Please note that an invitation to submit a paper or other piece is not guarantee of publication. Publication is planned for 2022.

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