Radical History Review - call for papers on Enclosures

Martin Haggerty martin at envoy.dircon.co.uk
Mon Nov 24 21:04:11 GMT 2008

Some subscribers to this list might wish to 
consider proposing a paper for the forthcoming 
issue of Radical History Review devoted to the 
theme of Enclosures. Details, from 
<http://chnm.gmu.edu/rhr/calls.htm>, are reproduced below.

With best wishes,

Martin Haggerty.

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 
property­academic disciplinary knowledge and 
access to the airwaves, for example­and, 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 enclosure­to 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 it­for 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 
rhr at igc.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 Submission Deadline: February 1, 2009
Email: <mailto:rhr at igc.org>rhr at igc.org

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