1 February 2024 by Emily Shakespeare

Image of defaced statue of man sprayed with red paint saying reparations to illustrate contested landscapes call for papers

Special Issue TitleA possibility for healing: contested memorial landscapes and the project of socio-cultural change

Landscape Research, the internationally refereed journal of the Landscape Research Group ,is calling for submissions for a special issue addressing the contestation of memorials and memorial landscapes. This special issue will follow the recently published special issue of Landscape Research (2023, 48/5).

Memorials are ubiquitous in the human landscapes, embodying the operation of power as dominant groups legitimise their authority. However, public recognition of how these mnemonic landscapes marginalize certain social groups has destabilised this power. Monuments that champion narratives of national heroism, homogeneity, or bourgeois virtue are increasingly re-read as symbols of oppression. Such monuments become highly politicised as oppressed groups target call for their modification, removal or in some cases vandalise or topple them. But is toppling a monument enough? In many cases, the demolition of a monument is the end of the story. Once the monument is gone, the issues seem forgotten; people go on about their lives while racism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of marginalization continue to exist. In this issue, we propose that it is time to look past the listing and descriptions of the wrongs existing mnemonic landscapes represent. Instead, we seek to explore how these troublesome/toxic monuments may contribute to healing. Central to this special issue will be that even difficult things must remain in the public eye to build effective social movements (Honig, 2017).

The proposed special issue will contribute to the literature on contested mnemonic landscapes by asking “what next?” While we understand contestation, some authors have made the case that toppling a monument or changing the name of a building or street do not do much on their own and hardly constitute the kinds of social movements necessary to provoke social, cultural, political, or economic change (see for example Gapps, 2021; Rigney, 2022). In moving forward, we ask the following questions: In what situations may removing monuments be appropriate? What alternatives exist to removal? Might recontextualization or the erection of counter-memorials achieve social progress? How might the ideas of witnessing and affect be useful? These questions are not exhaustive and we welcome paper proposals that expand upon them all in the pursuit of moving this important field of inquiry forward.

To these ends we invite authors interested in collaborating to submit an abstract (of no more than 500 words) for consideration and short author bios (of no more than 250 words per author). Submissions are encouraged from a diversity of disciplinary areas including, but not limited to, postcolonial studies, geography, architecture, landscape architecture, history, anthropology, urban studies, planning, design, heritage studies, and cultural studies. We especially welcome submissions from First Nations scholars, early career researchers and researchers from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Submission timeframes are as follows:

It is anticipated that the special issue will be published in mid 2025 to early 2026.

Further information on the journal Landscape Research and the journal’s submission requirements can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/clar20/current

This Journal Special Issue continues on from an LRG event last year hosted by Michael and Matthew: the recording of which can be found here.

Please direct all enquiries and/or submissions to the Special Editors:

Prof. Michael Ripmester – mripmeester@brocku.ca

Dr Matthew Rofe – matthew.rofe@unisa.edu.au

Literature Cited:

Gapps, S. (2021) Keep them, counter them or tear them down? Statues, monuments and the smoothing over of historical injustices. History Australia 18/4, pp.830–836.

Honig, B. (2017) Public Democracy in Disrepair. Fordham University Press: New York.

Rigney, A. (2022) Toxic monuments and mnemonic regime change. Studies on National Movements 9/1, pp.7-41.