CFP: Radical History Review

Calling the Law into Question: Confronting the Illegal and Illicit in Public
Issue Number 113

The Radical History Review is planning a special issue that explores how
historians, activists, curators, historic site and museum administrators, as
well as other creators and managers of historical content, address public
audiences around issues of the illicit or the illegal. With the goal of
"calling the law into question," the editors seek research-based and
reflective pieces that examine how engagement with histories of the illicit
or the illegal can challenge normative representations of how laws and moral
customs have been constructed, upheld, and discursively supported. We seek
contributions that examine why publicly engaged work should confront
histories of the illegal and illicit, which many people would rather avoid,
ignore, or forget. We are also interested in how publicly engaged work can
explore the social and cultural contexts that define and police what is
illegal or illicit, in a manner that provokes different publics to rethink
how these categories are created.

We are especially interested in submissions that address museum exhibits,
documentary films, websites, art, or writings intended for audiences outside
of academia. This special issue offers opportunities both to take stock of
the issues public historians, activists, and public scholars face in terms
of audience, funding, and institutional support, when they choose to engage
with histories of the illicit/illegal, and also to evaluate successful and
unsuccessful examples of work - in terms of influence, financial and
institutional support, and critical and popular reception - that have been
created to this end.

Examples of possible topics include:

. Representation of criminality and vice in neighborhood and local public
history projects as well as in crime and vice tourism
. Environmental justice tours that expose EPA violations (e.g. directed at
. Local/regional/national museums that focus on the history of law
. Museological displays that address war crimes (e.g. the War Remnants
Museum in Ho Chi Minh City) or conscientious objectors/"draft dodgers"
. Challenges posed by public history tours of former prisons and places of
. Public commemorations that intersect with histories of unlawful actions
. The challenges of engaging public audiences around "illegal" migration and
the maintenance of territorial sovereignty
. Public protest or public art questioning the moral and/or cultural
validity of religious laws and conventions
. Conflicts over the inclusion of materials depicting violence or sexual
content in public projects aimed at children and youth
. Museums and public history sites that contextualize international law and
the maintenance of human rights
. Examinations of how the history of oceanic piracy has been portrayed in
public arenas
. Web-based challenges to copyright and intellectual property laws, and
public defenses of such practices
. Exhibits and other public displays aimed at supporting or discounting
reproductive rights
. Public exhibits that address the use of banned substances (contemporary
and historical)
. Explorations into how liberation narratives (such as gay liberation) offer
progressive histories of overcoming the stigma of being illicit or illegal,
at the expense of examining historical complexities
. Analyses of when and how do formerly illegal acts become (publicly
sanctioned) icons of national culture? (Capoeira in Brazil is one example)
. Documentaries (television/film/radio) focusing on insider trading,
corporate excess, and illegal market manipulations
. Examinations of the challenges of securing funding and institutional
support for public projects that engage histories of the illicit/illegal

Because the Radical History Review publishes material in a variety of forms,
the editors will consider abstracts for scholarly research articles as well
as proposals for relevant photo essays, artwork, reviews
(exhibit/film/web/book), interviews, discussions between scholars and/or
activists, teaching reflections, and annotated course syllabi. Furthermore,
the editors encourage submissions that "call the law into question" in the
full range of geographic locations and eras.

Preliminary inquiries may be sent to the editors: Amy Tyson at and Andy Urban at

By September 1, 2010, please submit a 1-2 page abstract summarizing the
article or other contribution you wish to submit to with "Issue 113 abstract
submission" in the subject line. By October 15, 2010 contributors will be
notified whether they should submit their piece in full. The due date for
solicited, complete articles for blind peer review is March 1, 2011.
Articles that are selected for publication after the peer review process
will appear in volume 113 of Radical History Review, which is scheduled for
Spring 2012. Note: for artwork to be considered, please send low-resolution
digital files (totaling less than 2 MB in size) to (also with "Issue 113
abstract submission" in the subject line). If chosen for publication it will
be required that you send high-resolution image files--JPG or TIF files at a
minimum of 300 dpi--along with permissions to reprint all images.

Abstract Deadline: September 1, 2010



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