Call for Submissions:

Figuring Territory

Abstract submission deadline: 7 February 2022

Bovenbouw Architectuur and Malgorzata Maria Olchowska, “Windsor landscape” from the series “Our happy life: city scenes,” 2019. © Bovenbouw Architectuur and Gosia Olchowska

How does a territory come to be identified, physically or figuratively, and who constructs that definition?

For our next web issue, Figuring Territory, we launch the first open call for contributions to the CCA website: a call to imagine, construct, dismantle, rebuild, write, and rewrite understandings of territory. While the term “territory” is often used to describe a specific, delineated body of land, power, or knowledge, such a formal definition is complicated—even obscured or negated—by the flows of words, images, and stories that circulate across boundaries and timeframes.

The perception of a territory is shaped at least as much by narrative—imagined, consumed, and received—as by borders and legal jurisdiction. In his 2003 video essay Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Andersen takes on this dissonance between image and place, questioning the degree to which the city documented as backdrop in countless Hollywood films is anything like the movie version. Comparing the “real” Los Angeles to its “reel” counterpart, Andersen’s narrator muses: “We might wonder if the movies have ever really depicted Los Angeles.” At what point do the factual and the fictionalized intersect? And where do they depart?

Though maps and atlases may tell us what lies where on the globe and guidebooks attempt to advise us what to notice, it is films, novels, newspapers, ad campaigns, myths, rumours, and other stories that help to inform both our collective understanding and our individual experience, from wherever we are, of what constitutes life in between, across, and beyond borders. Exposing the fragility of these borders, Palestinian-based Radio Alhara—first initiated as a space to share and communicate in response to the global pandemic—explores territories that exist beyond exclusively geographic bounds. As an open platform to host music and conversation from around the world, the station itself fosters a new territory, one whose boundaries are not coterminous with any traceable limit.

Whether embodied or witnessed, conceptions of a territory reinforce and concretize, or refute and complicate, existing understandings of a place. The way a territory is figured—orally, aurally, visually—amplifies certain narratives while suppressing others. At the CCA, we continue to study territories as geopolitical formations whose boundaries have been drawn by distinct historical processes and power structures—see, for example, our recent and upcoming projects Toolkit for Today: In the Planetary Field, Middleground: Siting Dispossession, and ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home. With Figuring Territory, we aim to explore underacknowledged cultural manifestations of territory and the many counternarratives that they generate. As the CCA’s first web issue built around an open call, Figuring Territory will consider contested histories, contemporary placemaking, and possible futures to redefine what a territory is or can be.

Submission Guidelines

Figuring Territory, conceived by CCA Editors Claire Lubell, Alexandra Pereira-Edwards, and Andrew Scheinman, invites contributors from across disciplines and cultural contexts to explore how territories are made, taken, and othered. The editorial team encourages contributions that trace the ways by which territories come to exist in our imaginations, or in imaginary terms—that is, as images, texts, sounds, visuals, or otherwise—or that explore, in turn, how imaginaries come to define a place. We welcome contributions that are themselves conceptions of a territory, real or not; that dissect the construction of territories by legal or cultural bodies; or that highlight untold histories of the built environment.

Abstracts (max. 300 words, in French or English, together with one representative image) should be sent to by 7 February 2022, outlining the proposed topic and format. Authors will be notified by 18 February 2022 and selected proposals will be developed in collaboration with the CCA editorial team, with a final submission deadline of 25 March. An honorarium of CAD 500 will be offered for each published piece. Final submissions may take the form of a text-based essay (approx. 2000 words, minimum one image), visual essay (employing photography or other visualizations), film or other form of moving image, sonic piece, cartographic exploration, speculative fiction, or interview or conversation.


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