Call for Papers

Photo: Verena LaMela

Collection no. 008: Infrastructure and the Animal

Fall 2022

In January 2020, a five-day cull of feral camels was announced in South Australia. With bushfires raging across the continent, these animals were blamed for blocking roads and causing significant damage to infrastructure in their desperate search for water. Having been brought to Australia for use as pack animals in the 19th century, this animal infrastructure became obsolete as roads and railways were rolled out across the country. Today, the descendants of these pack animals are hunted down as feral pests. 

The story of the Australian camel exemplifies a transformation in the relationship between animals and infrastructure that is fundamental to metanarratives of modernity. This relationship is often understood as one of obsolescence and separation. The development of railway infrastructure, for example, led in most cases to the replacement of pack and draught animals, while barbed wire fences were strung across continents to keep both wild animals and livestock off the tracks. Both obsolescence and separation are conventionally understood as merely technical matters, but are also central to the politics and poetics of infrastructure. 

In this issue of Roadsides we ask what thinking with animals (both domestic and wild) and infrastructure can reveal about the expectations and failures of modernity. We invite authors (academic and non-academic) and particularly encourage submissions that go beyond the conventional journal article format, and combine text with images, videos and/or audio recordings (see https://roadsides.net/guide-for-authors/).

Potential topics might include (but are not limited to) the following:

    • The ‘subversive mobility’ (Shell 2013) afforded by transport animals and its relation to infrastructuralized state power
    • How is the rendering obsolete, or continued use, of transport animals related to questions of race, gender and class?
    • ‘Roadkill’ and responsibility in different cultural and legal contexts
    • Ecology and infrastructure: novel ways of governing animal mobility through the design of infrastructure (e.g. wildlife crossings, bat bridges etc.)
    • Animals and infrastructural ruination after modernity: what possibilities for the ‘return’ of animals are created by the lack of maintenance? What anxieties (and hopes) does this provoke?
    • Afterlives: what happens to those animals rendered obsolete by infrastructural modernity?
    • Resilience and contemporary animal infrastructure in an age of ecological crisis

Please send a title, abstract (max. 300 words) and a short biography (max. 200 words) by 25 February 2022 to the co-editors of this issue of Roadsides, Emilia Sulek (emilia.sulek@unifr.ch) and Thomas White (thomas.white@unifr.ch). Selected authors will be notified in early March and invited to submit a full paper (1500 words max., due on 1 May 2022) and attend a workshop at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, 11-14 May 2022. The costs of participation in the workshop will be covered by the organizers.

Final papers will undergo a “double-open” peer review and will be published in the Roadsides Collection no. 008 in November 2022. Please do contact the editors if you have any questions about your potential submission. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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